Herta beats Harvey to St. Pete pole


24 Apr 2021

Credit: Joe Skibinski/IndyCar Media

Colton Herta claimed pole position for IndyCar’s Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, beating Jack Harvey late on to take the top spot.

The Andretti Autosport youngster’s best time of 1 minute 0.3210 seconds was a quarter of a second faster than Harvey’s quickest effort. By qualifying second, Harvey achieved the best qualifying result of his career so far.

Josef Newgarden, who topped every session this weekend prior to the final part of qualifying, could only manage third fastest at the end of Saturday’s running. He will line up for Sunday’s race alongside Penske team-mate Simon Pagenaude on the second row of the grid.

Two-time St. Pete winner Sebastien Bourdais was fifth, ahead of Barber polesitter Pato O’Ward.

Scott Dixon missed out on a chance to take pole position. One week after Chip Ganassi Racing locked out three of the fast six spots at the season opener, none of the team’s four entries made it to the shootout.

Six-time champion Dixon very nearly didn’t make it out of the first part of qualifying after having his best time deleted for causing a local yellow flag after spinning at turn eight. His second fastest time was just enough to see him advance, but he couldn’t progress further. He will start Sunday’s race eighth behind Rinus VeeKay.

Credit: Chris Jones/IndyCar Media

Graham Rahal and Barber winner Alex Palou completed the top 10, while Alexander Rossi – who dominated last year’s race before crashing late on – could only manage 11th, one spot ahead of Andretti Autosport team-mate James Hinchcliffe.

Will Power was another high-profile driver to miss out on a chance of pole. The Penske driver, who signed a new contract with the team this weekend keeping him there until at least 2023, clipped the wall during his final lap on the first part of qualifying, breaking a toe and later causing him to spin. It was the first time he failed to make it past the opening round of qualifying since Toronto in 2019.

Unlike last weekend, none of this year’s star-studded rookie class made it out of the first part of qualifying.

Scott McLaughlin, who made his IndyCar debut in last year’s season-ending St. Petersburg race, will start this year’s edition of the event on the seventh row of the grid alongside Ryan-Hunter Reay, while Romain Grosjean is four spots back, and will start alongside Felix Rosenqvist. Seven-time NASCAR Cup series champion will start 23rd, ahead of Dalton Kellett.

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg qualifying results

1. (26) Colton Herta, Honda, 01:00.3210 (107.425 mph)
2. (60) Jack Harvey, Honda, 01:00.5709 (106.982)
3. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 01:00.6078 (106.917)
4. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 01:00.6353 (106.868)
5. (14) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 01:01.0017 (106.227)
6. (5) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 01:01.0799 (106.091)
7. (21) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 01:00.4858 (107.133)
8. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 01:00.4997 (107.108)
9. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 01:00.5678 (106.988)
10. (10) Alex Palou, Honda, 01:00.6220 (106.892)
11. (27) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 01:00.6476 (106.847)
12. (29) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 01:00.8671 (106.461)
13. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 01:00.8524 (106.487)
14. (3) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 01:00.7044 (106.747)
15. (30) Takuma Sato, Honda, 01:00.9167 (106.375)
16. (8) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 01:00.7058 (106.744)
17. (7) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 01:00.9569 (106.305)
18. (51) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 01:00.8127 (106.557)
19. (20) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 01:01.4220 (105.500)
20. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 01:01.1140 (106.031)
21. (18) Ed Jones, Honda, 01:01.4453 (105.460)
22. (59) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 01:01.5065 (105.355)
23. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Honda, 01:01.8364 (104.793)
24. (4) Dalton Kellett, Chevrolet, 01:02.3396 (103.947)