Photo: Travis Hinkle/Penske Entertainment

Herta Recovers from Wild Day at Road America to Score Pole

By David Morgan, Associate Editor

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Spin and win.

Saturday at Road America has certainly been action-packed for Colton Herta, with a number of off-track excursions in practice and qualifying, but despite it all, the driver of the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda will start Sunday’s Sonsio Grand Prix from the pole.

Herta laid down the fast time of one minute, 40.1945 seconds for the 10th pole of his NTT IndyCar Series career and his second on the 4.048-mile Road America circuit.

“It feels nice to be back, kind of on form,” Herta said. “Our qualifyings have been kind of lackluster the last few weekends. Luckily, we put it all together today and ended up on the pole.

“Super happy. The car was great. Happy.”

“I had more problems today than I did yesterday as far as off tracks and whatnot,” Herta added of the increased difficulty of the new Road America asphalt.. “I think it’s just difficult. It’s hard to get the cars in the operating window. It seems like some cars like different tires than others.

“It’s just a very strange feeling, at least for me, inside the car. I’m sure it’s different team to team and whatnot. For me it’s a very strange feeling at the wheel. I think it shows by how many guys have been kind of trickling off the track, just having weird spins.”

Pato O’Ward will join Herta on the front row in his Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, having narrowly missed out on taking pole away from his former Indy Lights teammate.

“Very solid start for us tomorrow,” O’Ward said. “It’s been a real joy to drive this new repaved track. It’s been, yeah, very, very enjoyable. I think it’s been a challenge for sure. Very high commitment.”

Alex Palou recovered from his crash in practice to time in third in his rebuilt Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, followed by Indy 500 champion Josef Newgarden in fourth, and Alexander Rossi rounding out the top-five after pacing the first two practice sessions of the weekend.

Kyle Kirkwood was the sixth and final driver in the Firestone Fast Six, but did not have the opportunity to put in a lap during the final round as his Honda developed a mechanical issue at the end of the second round that precluded him from running again. He will start sixth on Sunday.

The remainder of the top-10 went to Christian Lundgaard, Marcus Armstrong, Marcus Ericsson, and rookie Benjamin Pedersen.

Meanwhile, further back in the field, tensions still lingered between Will Power and Scott Dixon after their incident in practice earlier in the day.

Dixon was a non-factor in qualifying, only managing the 23rd fastest time in his backup car, while Power drove his rebuilt Team Penske Chevrolet to a 22nd place starting position.

Adding insult to injury from his practice crash, Power also had an incident in qualifying that saw him make an off-track excursion in the first round of time trials.

After climbing from his car once the session ended, Power gave an all-time great interview to NBC Sports, calling out Dixon, the track, and throwing shots at another driver he had a run-in with during practice – Romain Grosjean.

With the field now set, just one final practice session remains before the green flag flies on Sunday’s 55-lap main event. That 30-minute warm-up session is scheduled for 10:15 am ET on Peacock, followed by the Sonsio Grand Prix at 1:30 pm ET on USA Network.

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.