Colton Herta Photo by Chris Owens, Indycar
The streak is over. Coming into Toronto this weekend, the NTT Indycar series had seen nine different pole winners in its nine races. A different pole winner today would have tied a record set in 1952. But Colton Herta won his second pole of the season in a wild qualifying session that saw several pole contenders eliminated early due to a red flag.
The first group in round 1 had a smooth run. In group 2 things got a bit crazy. Devlin DeFrancesco overshot turn 3 and went nose first into the tires. The other cars were on an out lap, so DeFrancesco was not penalized. While he was extricating himself, Alex Palou’s car stopped on track, causing a red flag.
Drivers scrambled to get their best laps in the short time remaining. Kyle Kirkwood was on pace to solidly advance, but he clipped the wall in turn 6 and spun just before pit entrance in turn , bringing out a red flag. The drivers behind Kirkwood did not get to complete their laps. Will Power, Graham Rahal, and Simon Pagenaud, who all looked like pole contenders, missed the second round.
The round of 12 included four rookies- Callum Ilott, David Malukas, Christian Lundgaard, and Devlin DeFrancesco. Malukas would advance to the fast Six. he was the only driver in the final round who could keep the pole streak alive.
Josef Newgarden set the fastest time with less than a minute to go, then pitted and waited. Herta and Scott Dixon were both on a pace to beat Newgarden’s time. Herta edged Newgarden by 0.25 seconds. Dixon was faster than Newgarden but fell short of Herta by 0. 089 seconds. Herta earned his ninth career pole.
Points leader Marcus Ericsson will start ninth.
Callum Ilott just missed the fast Six and will start seventh.
David Malukas is in a good spot to pick up more ground on Christian Lundgaard in the Rookie of the Year battle. Lundgaard leads by 14 points. He starts 10th tomorrow.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing drivers Jack Harvey and Graham Rahal saw their competitive practice times go for naught with their 13th and 14th place staring spots. Rahal looked to be a pole contender.
Pato O’Ward has been slow all weekend. O’Ward needs a good result Sunday. He has averaged a 25th place finish the last two races.
Does Will Power have another come from behind run in him? Power will line up 16th tomorrow. It will be his third straight start of 15th or worse. Toronto is a difficult track to make up ground.