IndyCar Long Beach starting lineup: Colton Herta captures pole as Andretti thrives

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LONG BEACH, California — Backing up his first win at his hometown IndyCar race last September, Colton Herta earned his first pole position at the track Saturday to lead the starting lineup for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Herta, a Southern California native who grew up in Valencia, set a track record with a 1-minute, 5.3095-second lap that shattered the previous mark of 1:06.2254 set by Helio Castroneves five years ago.

“As a young kid, I always dreamed of being an IndyCar driver, and that’s because of this race,” Herta, 22, told NBC Sports’ Marty Snider of the eighth pole position of his NTT IndyCar Series career. “To get the win last year was amazing, and we checked another box off today with the pole. It feels incredible.”

LONG BEACH QUALIFYINGClick here for results

TIRE DESIGNATIONS: Starting lineup with primary or alternate choices

Herta won from 14th last year, leading the final 22 laps.

His No. 26 Dallara-Honda was the fastest of three Andretti Autosport cars that made the final round of qualifying.

The team was headed for a front-row sweep until Romain Grosjean had his lap time erased by a crash with 2 seconds remaining in the session, putting him sixth behind teammate Alexander Rossi.

“We tried very hard, Colton was super fast today,” Grosjean told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee. “The last lap I just tried real hard, and it didn’t work. The good thing is we’re sixth on the grid. The rule is hard that you lose your lap time because I should be second on the grid, but I also like it that if you create a red flag, it’s on you.

“We’re going to work for tomorrow. It’s going to be tough, and Colton shows us last year it was possible to overtake. We’re going to go for it.”

Josef Newgarden qualified second, followed by Alex Palou and Felix Rosenqvist.

GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACHHow to watch Sunday on NBC and Peacock

The qualifying session produced the usual differences of opinion and frustration among drivers to find clear track on the jammed layout. Will Power (seventh) was displeased by traffic that cost him time when Pato O’Ward had to stop in the hairpin.

Scott McLaughlin (ninth) and Marcus Ericsson (eighth) were upset with each other in these separate interviews with Lee.

Jimmie Johnson will be starting 26th after losing his two fastest laps for impeding Graham Rahal. Despite a fractured right hand from a crash Friday, Johnson plans to race with a carbon-fiber splint and said he felt no pain Saturday despite another shunt for his No. 48 Dallara-Honda into a tire barrier.

JIMMIE WILL RACE: Johnson considered skipping Long Beach because of injury

Here’s the IndyCar starting lineup for Sunday’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on the 11-turn, 1.968-mile street course (qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, engine, speed):


ROW 1

1. (26) Colton Herta, Honda, 01:05.3095 (108.480 mph)
2. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 01:05.7550 (107.745)

ROW 2

3. (10) Alex Palou, Honda, 01:05.8667 (107.563)
4. (7) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 01:05.9349 (107.451)

ROW 3

5. (27) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 01:06.0674 (107.236)
6. (28) Romain Grosjean, Honda, No Time (No Speed)

ROW 4

7. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 01:05.8745 (107.550)
8. (8) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 01:05.9548 (107.419)

ROW 5

9. (3) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 01:06.0507 (107.263)
10. (60) Simon Pagenaud, Honda, 01:06.0678 (107.235)

ROW 6

11. (5) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 01:06.0726 (107.228)
12. (14) Kyle Kirkwood, Chevrolet, 01:06.2604 (106.924)

ROW 7

13. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 01:06.6896 (106.235)
14. (06) Helio Castroneves, Honda, 01:06.2467 (106.946)

ROW 8

15. (21) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 01:06.7049 (106.211)
16. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 01:06.3241 (106.821)

ROW 9

17. (29) Devlin DeFrancesco, Honda, 01:06.7418 (106.152)
18. (20) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 01:06.4489 (106.620)

ROW 10

19. (18) David Malukas, Honda, 01:06.7925 (106.072)
20. (30) Christian Lundgaard, Honda, 01:06.5049 (106.530)

ROW 11

21. (45) Jack Harvey, Honda, 01:06.9708 (105.789)
22. (77) Callum Ilott, Chevrolet, 01:06.6672 (106.271)

ROW 12

23. (51) Takuma Sato, Honda, 01:07.1001 (105.586)
24. (4) Dalton Kellett, Chevrolet, 01:06.7679 (106.111)

ROW 13

25. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Honda, 01:09.0287 (102.636)
26. (11) Tatiana Calderon, Chevrolet, 01:07.4789 (104.993)

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III