Herta takes IndyCar pole at Laguna Seca, Newgarden only 17th - The Race

Herta takes IndyCar pole at Laguna Seca, Newgarden only 17th

Sep 18 2021
By Jack Benyon

Colton Herta took his third IndyCar pole position of the year at Laguna Seca, as third place championship contender Josef Newgarden will start 17th in the penultimate race of the season at a track known to reward a good qualifying start.

With the usual road course qualifying of the fastest six from the first two groups going to a round of 12, the fastest six of whom would then fight for pole, Newgarden struggled at the first hurdle.

Starting the weekend 34 points behind Palou entering Laguna Seca, Newgarden topped the first practice session but in a stacked group one qualifying segment which featured his title rivals Pato O’Ward, Scott Dixon and Marcus Ericsson, Newgarden failed to get a lap together.

Points standings with two races, 109 points available

1 Palou 477

2 O’Ward -25

3 Newgarden -34

4 Dixon -49

5 Ericsson -75

He will start well down the order at a track where qualifying is absolutely vital. Newgarden won the 2019 title at this venue with a measured drive to eighth that wouldn’t be enough in 2021.

In the absence of Newgarden, his Penske team-mate Will Power starred topping the Fast Six late on, but right at the very last the driver who beat him to victory when this track returned to the schedule in 2019, Colton Herta, dived in to steal the top spot and a third pole of the year.

Power appeared to improve a lap with O’Ward spinning at the corkscrew, and in-turn lost second gifting Alexander Rossi the spot and an Andretti Autosport 1-2.

Power took third ahead of points leader Alex Palou, who can be happy to start as the top points contender after a messy session.

He struggled to tie his first laps together in his group one segment and particularly took too much kerb at the corkscrew on his penultimate effort before improving at the last.

James Hinchcliffe and Power bumped Palou to sixth, the last available spot to advance, while Conor Daly couldn’t improve as Palou scraped through in what is likely a vital moment in his season and title chances.

Back in the Fast Six, qualifying star Oliver Askew took fifth for Rahal Letterman Lanigan as he runs the last three races of the year to audition for a drive in 2022.

Askew topped the group two runners initially and then drama hit in the round of 12 as he was penalised for not slowing for yellows.

However, that meant he lost his fifth lap and his sixth was fast enough to put him into the Fast Six for the second time in his IndyCar career, and then he had one final piece of luck as O’Ward lost his best lap for his corkscrew spin and starts sixth.

Even though O’Ward is two spots behind Palou, he was happy with his run given his car and his own troublesome weekend so far having gone off track earlier in the day too.

Two title contenders missed out on the Fast Six fight for pole by a hair. Marcus Ericsson and his Ganassi team-mate Scott Dixon are seventh and eighth, ahead of Penske’s Simon Pagenaud and an impressive run for Carlin’s Max Chilton.

Hinchcliffe and Rahal were the last drivers in the second round, with Rahal spinning on his way to the corkscrew after straddling a kerb that sent him off track.

Dale Coyne Racing’s Romain Grosjean missed out on making the second part of qualifying by 0.0027s, and will start 13th at a track he picked at the start of the year as one of his most highly anticipated thanks to racing it on Gran Turismo.

His weekend didn’t get off to a great start as he crashed the IndyCar pacecar as part of a video where drivers do laps of a circuit for the series media channels. Luckily Grosjean and Ed Jones were OK.

Rinus VeeKay’s disappointing weekend continued with a sticking throttle after going off twice in practice. He’ll start 24th.

Qualifying Results

Pos Name Team Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Colton Herta Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 1m10.902s 1m10.584s 1m10.799s
2 Alexander Rossi Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 1m11.069s 1m10.916s 1m10.995s
3 Will Power Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m11.283s 1m10.833s 1m11.131s
4 Alex Palou Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m11.439s 1m10.835s 1m11.331s
5 Oliver Askew Arrow McLaren SP, Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m11.015s 1m10.911s 1m11.893s
6 Patricio O'Ward Arrow McLaren SP Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m11.299s 1m11.022s 1m24.271s
7 Marcus Ericsson Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m11.317s 1m11.258s
8 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m11.527s 1m11.276s
9 Simon Pagenaud Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m11.377s 1m11.306s
10 Max Chilton Carlin Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m11.185s 1m11.308s
11 James Hinchcliffe Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 1m11.354s 1m11.456s
12 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m10.991s 1m12.467s
13 Romain Grosjean Dale Coyne Racing with RWR Dallara DW12-Honda 1m11.53s
14 Ed Jones Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan Dallara DW12-Honda 1m11.469s
15 Felix Rosenqvist Arrow McLaren SP Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m11.544s
16 Scott McLaughlin Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m11.576s
17 Josef Newgarden Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m11.55s
18 Conor Daly Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m11.592s
19 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 1m11.672s
20 Jack Harvey Meyer Shank Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m11.668s
21 Sébastien Bourdais A.J. Foyt Enterprises Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m11.977s
22 Helio Castroneves Meyer Shank Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m11.807s
23 Takuma Sato Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m12.144s
24 Rinus VeeKay Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m12.284s
25 Jimmie Johnson Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 1m12.286s
26 Callum Ilott Juncos Hollinger Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m12.355s
27 Dalton Kellett A.J. Foyt Enterprises Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 1m12.605s

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