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


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):


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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)

Kyle Larson wins third consecutive High Limit Sprint race at Eagle Raceway, Rico Abreu second again

Larson High Limit Eagle
High Limit Racing - Twitter

It took four attempts for Kyle Larson to win his first High Limit Sprint Car Series race in the series he co-owns with brother-in-law Brad Sweet, but once he found victory lane, he has been undefeated with his win at Eagle (Nebraska) Raceway. For the second week, Abreu led early only to fall prey to Larson.

The win was Larson’s third straight victory and the fifth consecutive top-five, giving him a perfect sweep of the season after finishing 10th in last year’s inaugural race at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Indiana.

Larson started third behind Abreu and Brent Marks but was embroiled in a fierce battle with Anthony Macri for third during the first dozen laps. Larson slipped by Macri in traffic until a red flag waved for a flip by Lachlan McHugh.

Meanwhile at the front of the pack, Marks retook the lead from Abreu on Lap 18. Larson followed one lap later and then caution waved again. Tyler Courtney lost power and fell to 24th after starting eighth.

Marks scooted away on the restart but tragedy struck in Lap 26. Leading the race, Marks hit a pothole in Turn 1, bicycled and then flipped, handing the lead to Larson.

Abreu caught Larson again during the final laps and in a reprise of their battle at Tri-City Speedway, the two threw sliders at one another for several laps until Larson built some separation and ran away to the checkers.

“I didn’t feel like my pace in [Turns] 1 & 2 slowed down a ton,” Larson said from victory lane. “I missed it once there and then I saw his nose in 3 & 4. I didn’t know if he nailed the bottom that well behind me and I think he might have slid me in the next corner, so he was definitely on the top.

“I was nervous to move up there because my car was really pogoing up in the entry of 1. I got up just in time, made a few mistakes and he threw a couple more sliders at me but he was just a little too far back and I was able to squirt around him. Then I really had to commit to hitting my marks – back my effort down a bit to avoid mistakes.”

After leading early, Abreu fell back as far as sixth, but faith in his car kept hope alive.

“I just needed to do a few things a few laps before I did and fix some angles, then my car got a whole lot better,” Abreu said. “I’m thankful for this team; they do an amazing job. They don’t give up on me. I know my car is going to be there right at the end of these races, so it’s just the discipline of being patient.”

For Abreu, it was his third near-miss this season. He was leading at Lakeside in the 2023 opener until a tire went flat in the closing laps and he lost the lead to Larson late in the Tri-City Speedway race. Abreu has finished sixth or better in his last three High Limit races with each result being progressively better until his pair of runner-up results.

Third-place finisher Scelzi was the hard charger, advancing from 17th.

“I had a very specific plan; don’t go near [the hole in Turn 1],” Scelzi said. “It worked out. No one wanted to start on the top. I think I gained a couple of rows there on the choose cone and ran the middle, which seemed to be better than right around the bottom.”

Michael “Buddy” Kofoid in fourth and Macri rounded out the top five.

World of Outlaws star and former NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne was one of 41 entrants, but he was not among the 26 starters. He failed to advance to the Main after finishing eighth in the B Main and seventh in his heat.

Feature Results

A Feature (40 Laps): 1. 57-Kyle Larson[4]; 2. 24-Rico Abreu[1]; 3. 18-Giovanni Scelzi[17]; 4. 71-Michael Kofoid[5]; 5. 39M-Anthony Macri[3]; 6. 9-Chase Randall[9]; 7. 26-Zeb Wise[14]; 8. 1X-Jake Bubak[15]; 9. 8-Aaron Reutzel[10]; 10. 14D-Corey Day[18]; 11. 11-Cory Eliason[12]; 12. 5T-Ryan Timms[11]; 13. 88-Austin McCarl[13]; 14. 21H-Brady Bacon[22]; 15. 48-Danny Dietrich[16]; 16. 7S-Robbie Price[19]; 17. 21-Brian Brown[23]; 18. 22-Riley Goodno[26]; 19. 52-Blake Hahn[25]; 20. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr[21]; 21. 3J-Dusty Zomer[6]; 22. 14-Cole Macedo[7]; 23. 19-Brent Marks[2]; 24. 7BC-Tyler Courtney[8]; 25. 25-Lachlan McHugh[20]; 26. 53-Jack Dover[24]

2023 High Limit Sprint Car Series

Race 1: Giovanni Scelzi wins at Lakeside Speedway
Race2: Anthony Macri wins at 34 Raceway
Race 3: Kyle Larson wins at Wayne County Speedway
Race 4: Kyle Larson wins at Tri-City Speedway