Herta snatches pole from Rahal at Mid-Ohio as Honda-powered cars dominate qualifying

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Round 1, Group 1

Most drivers kicked off qualifying by running on blacks. The first laps saw times in the 1:11s before seconds came off as the drivers got up to speed.

The Arrow McLaren of Pato O’Ward had set a 1:06.9058 before spinning on the exit of The Keyhole and bringing out a red flag with just under six minutes remaining as he stalled. He couldn’t advance due to IndyCar rules in regards to causing a red flag. The Mexican will start P25.

O’Ward’s downfall left Ericsson on top with a 1:07.0916, followed by Malukas, Castroneves, Palou, Rossi and Harvey.

Rosenqvist, Hunter-Reay, Pedersen, McLaughlin, Newgarden and Canapino found themselves below the line when the green flag was waved.

The ECR of Hunter-Reay got deep into turn 2 and had two wheels on the grass but avoided spinning or crashing.

A 1:05.9252 put Marcus Ericsson on top of the list in the first round of qualifying. Palou, Rosenqvist, McLaughlin, Harvey and Malukas also went through. 0.6s covered the drivers who advanced.

Along with O’Ward, Rossi and Newgarden were the big shocks of group 1 as they missed out in P7 and P8. They will start 13th and 15th.

Hunter-Reay, Castroneves, Canapino and Pedersen also dropped out.

Round 1, Group 2

In the second group, a 1:06.2999 from Colton Herta was the fastest time before everyone switched to reds. Dixon, Power, Kirkwood, Lundgaard and Grosjean found themselves in the top 6 with five minutes left. Only two tenths covered them.

Armstrong, VeeKay, DeFrancesco, Ilott, Robb, Rahal and Ferrucci were looking for improvements to get into the next round.

An impressive 1:05.8933 from Lundgaard put him top immediately on the reds. It was quicker than Ericsson’s from group 1.

Ultimately it was Kyle Kirkwood who logged the fastest time on a 1:05.7240. Six-time champion Scott Dixon also did a 1:05.7 to be P2. Herta, Lundgaard and Power dipped into the 1:05s as well, with a 1:06.0 from Graham Rahal saw him make it through by a tenth.

Grosjean, VeeKay, Armstrong, Ilott, Robb, DeFrancesco and Ferrucci were the drivers knocked out.

Round 2

The Andretti Autosport of Colton Herta led the way with five minutes to go in the Fast 12 as a 1:06.8404 left him fastest from Lundgaard, Dixon, McLaughlin, Palou and Power.

Kirkwood, Ericsson, Rosenqvist, Harvey, Rahal and Malukas found themselves in the knockout zone.

When they switched to the reds, Herta maintained top spot as he logged a 1:05.8576, just ahead of Christian Lundgaard. Rahal and Kirkwood joined their teammates in the fast 6, as the CGRs of Dixon and Palou also made it through. All six of them posted a 1:05.

Power, McLaughlin, Ericsson, Rosenqvist, Harvey and Malukas exited at this stage as no Team Penske cars made the final part of qualifying.

Fast 6

All cars in the final shootout for pole were Honda-powered cars.

Herta and Palou both opted for sticker primary tyres after playing a dummy game with the rest of the runners.

The RLL of Graham Rahal led the way with four minutes left on a 1:06.9663, a couple of tenths ahead of teammate Lundgaard. Kirkwood and Dixon also completed times at this point.

However, the Dane responded and did a 1:06.7805 to reclaim top spot from his teammate with three to go.

It looked like Graham Rahal would take a shock pole as a 1:06.3528 had him on top for a couple of minutes. But Colton Herta snatched it away right at the end as a 1:06.3096 gave him pole by 0.0432.

Photo credit: Penske Entertainment | James Black

Andretti Autosport had a day to remember with Kyle Kirkwood qualifying P3, half a tenth away from pole.

Championship leader Palou, Lundgaard and Dixon completed the top 6 following a cracking qualifying.