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Herta Earns Track Record Pole at Long Beach

Colton Herta storming off Turn 11 during qualifying at Long Beach (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish).

LONG BEACH, Calif. — Colton Herta’s California dominance continued Saturday as he’ll lead the 26-car field to the green flag for Sunday’s 47th Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Herta takes top honors of the new track record with a time of 01:05.3095 (108.480 mph), well surpassing Helio Castroneves’ 2017 mark by 0.9159 seconds.

It was a solid turnaround after not having the greatest practice where he ended up sixth quickest before improving to second during Saturday’s morning practice.

“We had a great car. Yesterday was a struggle for us. We kind of went to the drawing board overnight, brought something completely different out for today. It worked really well. I was really happy with it,” said Herta after winning his eighth career NTT P1 Pole Award.

“Obviously our one-lap pace is really strong. Now we’re kind of shifting focus to the race car. Seems like we can get up to tire temp really fast, get a lap in, so I was really happy with that.”

Alongside Herta will be Josef Newgarden, who came up 0.4455 seconds shy of repeating last September’s pole feat. Newgarden ended up second after Romain Grosjean stuffed his car into the turn 5 barriers, relegating Herta’s teammate to sixth for causing the red flag with two seconds left.

As a result of bringing out the red flag, Grosjean lost his second starting spot (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish).

When qualifying resumed, Felix Rosenqvist and Alexander Rossi hit the track but the pole stood for Herta, who waved to a specific crowd in turns 10-11. Those being the folks from the Honda Performance Development.

“They do so much for us. I was giving them a wave, a little thank you,” Herta on the wae. “They always bring people out and sit them in turn 10. You see all the red shirts. That’s everybody that works up at HPD in Santa Clarita, which is where I’m from.”

Herta waves to the HPD folks during the red flag conditions (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish).

Rossi went wide into turn 1 on his last go around. All told, he will roll off fifth as tire grip and pushing it hard played a role in the ordeal.

“I was looking at the timing screen. Oh, there’s 7/10ths. You have to start to find it in turn one, right,” Rossi explained.

“It was a bit too much. Ultimately I think we knew our bed was kind of made. It’s pretty hard to improve on third-run tires. But it’s kind of irrelevant. It’s a good spot for tomorrow and I think we have a good spot at it.”

As far as everything else, Rossi’s confident that a strong result is possible for not just him, but the organization which they sorely need after two agonizing races. Rossi will fight for a third Long Beach victory that’ll end his long winless streak that goes back to Road America in June 2019.

“We’ve been strong all weekend,” said Rossi. “I think it was a little bit of a missed opportunity to be fifth instead of potentially second or third with that red flag. Such is life, such is INDYCAR racing. Took a spot for tomorrow. I think the car is really good, so looking forward to it.”

Rossi will look to end his winless streak tomorrow (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish).

While it wasn’t another pole for Newgarden, he’s happy with the qualifying effort he put on in the Firestone Fast Six, noting it’s tough to conquer Andretti Autosport all across the board.

“I always hope we can work some magic in the Fast 6, make the impossible happen. Today was going to be really difficult,” said Newgarden. “Colton had definitely a better life on his tires going into the Fast 6. We had to use three laps apiece in Q1 and Q2 just to find our gaps, get our laps together. Unfortunately we didn’t have quite as good of a tire in the Fast 6.

“Regardless, if I think we were match to match, he probably had a couple 10ths on us. That’s what it looks like. The Andrettis in general look very strong across the board if you look at Grosjean and Rossi. I think we’re just missing a little something. So we’ll go searching for that tonight. I think we can find it, for sure, try to be better on full fuel,” Newgarden continued.

“Relatively happy. I think Team Chevy is doing a good job for us. The Hitachi car is quick. Not quick enough to be P1. We’re in the ballgame.”

Newgarden leads the Chevrolet camp in qualifying (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish).

The INDYCAR grid will have a warmup session Sunday morning at noon ET (live on Peacock) before taking center stage three hours later. Coverage of the 85-lap contest will begin at 3:00 p.m. ET on NBC. Herta will look to go back-to-back in Southern California and get Andretti Autosport back in the right direction.

47th Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach Starting Lineup

  1. 26 – Colton Herta
  2. 2 – Josef Newgarden
  3. 10 – Alex Palou
  4. 7 – Felix Rosenqvist
  5. 27 – Alexander Rossi
  6. 28 – Romain Grosjean
  7. 12 – Will Power
  8. 8 – Marcus Ericsson
  9. 3 – Scott McLaughlin
  10. 60 – Simon Pagenaud
  11. 5 – Pato O’Ward
  12. 14 – Kyle Kirkwood (R)
  13. 15 – Graham Rahal
  14. 06 – Helio Castroneves
  15. 21 – Rinus VeeKay
  16. 9 – Scott Dixon
  17. 29 – Devlin DeFrancesco (R)
  18. 20 – Conor Daly
  19. 18 – David Malukas (R)
  20. 30 – Christian Lundgaard (R)
  21. 45 – Jack Harvey
  22. 77 – Callum Ilott (R)
  23. 51 – Takuma Sato
  24. 4 – Dalton Kellett
  25. 48 – Jimmie Johnson
  26. 11 – Tatiana Calderon (R)

Throughout my young motorsports media career, my number-one goal is to be a personnel that can be flexible with my writing and photography in the world of NASCAR, INDYCAR and ARCA. Content delivery is vital because this is my main passion and what keeps me going. I've dealt with several challenges in my life, such as autism and making most out of trips despite relying on transportation. Even my quest of finding acceptance in my profession which has been my biggest challenge since graduating from college in 2016. Despite those hurdles with Motorsports Tribune and now The Podium Finish, I promise that you'll see excellence with my content. With two National Motorsports Press Association photography awards, I'm not slowing down anytime soon. Outside of media, I'm super vocal about my musical tastes that goes from Metallica to HAIM. Not only that, expect my social media filled with references nobody will understand, especially Licorice Pizza.

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