MONTEREY, CA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Harding Steinbrenner Racing’s Colton Herta is on the pole for Sunday’s NTT IndyCar Series Season Finale at WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca.
“We obviously had a great car this whole weekend, and after leading coming just straight off the truck and leading, being P2 in the morning and Thursday, leading the day Thursday and leading practice 1, being there in practice 2 and 3 and obviously getting the pole, it just shows the charisma of the team and everything we’re doing has been in the right directions,” said Herta. “Obviously, it feels great, now it’s two poles in two weekends.”
Herta’s fast lap of 1-minute, 10.1405-seconds (114.867 mph) in knockout-style qualifying was 0.0426-seconds faster than PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon (1:10.1831/114.797mph), who will start on the outside of the front row. Dixon needed the bonus point for winning the pole in his quest for a sixth Championship.
“It was definitely a good recovery for us,” said Dixon, the five-time and defending series Champion. “We’d been struggling a little bit all weekend. I’d just been struggling to get the time out of the new tires. I think we did a good job. I know our second run pace on used tires had been really good all weekend, it was just I hadn’t been able to get the speed out of the new ones. It was a nice surprise, and you know, in a good position.”
Two of the drivers Dixon is chasing in the Championship, Andretti Autosports Alexander Rossi and Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden, the series points leader, are starting behind him in 3rd and 4th respectively.
“We’ve had a pretty challenging two-and-a-half days for the (No.) 27 NAPA Andretti Honda group – really the Andretti Autosport group as a whole,” said Rossi. “We had peaks and valleys, but it came good this afternoon for the most part. It’s tough when you miss out by seven-hundredths. You can find a lot of places in a lap where you give that up. We just have to keep working at it and come up with a good race car strategy for tomorrow.”
“In our situation it’s a good thing to be close to the competition, specifically the ones in the championship,” said Newgarden. “We’ve got to have a good clean run tomorrow. You’d like to win every race and maybe we’ve got a race-winning car tomorrow. It certainly feels like we have the capability of it. But we need to have a good clean day, try and not get caught up in anything, and just run our race like we normally would. I think that’s what we’ll try and focus on.”
Arrow Schmidt Petersen Motorsports James Hinchcliffe will start fifth and Penske’s Simon Pagenaud, who is also in front of Dixon in the Championship hunt, will start sixth.
“It’s been a tough log up to this last point. The test day wasn’t super productive for us and unfortunately then, over Friday and this morning, we were thrown all sorts of set up changes at the car. I’ve been having to learn how to drive a different car every session. We never gave up and huge credit to the engineers, and everybody, for keeping their heads down and coming up with the setup at the end of Practice 3 this morning, which was something we could work with.”
it was definitely an intense qualifying,” said Pagenaud. “We pushed as hard as we could to try to be ahead. Very exciting. It was a very stressful situation but overall, I wanted to be on the pole. I think we all wanted to be on the pole. But it was very tight. It was very important to at least transfer to the Fast Six, and I think we tried everything we could. I was attacking everywhere, maybe a little too much at times, but that was the time to go. Absolutely no regrets, and we did the best we could.”
Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey, a 90-lap race, will be televised live on NBC beginning with the pre-race show at 2:30 p.m. ET (11:30 a.m. PT) with the green flag scheduled for 3:15 p.m. (12:15 p.m. PT). The race also will be broadcast on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network and SiriusXM Satellite Radio (XM 205, Sirius 98).