Story By: PAUL KELLY / INDYCAR – TORONTO, ONT – Colton Herta became the first two-time pole winner this season in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, earning the NTT P1 Award for the Honda Indy Toronto on Saturday.
Herta’s top time was 59.2698 seconds on his last flying lap in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda, as he added this pole to his No. 1 spot at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach in April. The first nine races of this season featured a different pole winner, and Herta was happy to spoil a chance for the INDYCAR SERIES to tie a record of 10 different pole winners to start a season set in 1952.
“That was an intense session,” Herta said. “We hadn’t really found that time until right at the end. I was really happy with that lap. It all kind of came together. The car was working brilliantly. You don’t see that usually, guys going faster on the used reds (alternate Firestone tires) instead of the new. Something to think about for tomorrow, but I’m happy with my Gainbridge Honda.”
The 85-lap race is scheduled for Sunday. Live, exclusive coverage of the race starts at 3 p.m. (ET) on Peacock Premium – with limited commercial interruptions – and the INDYCAR Radio Network. Both outlets also will cover live the morning warmup session at 10:55 a.m.
Six-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Scott Dixon will join Herta – who also led the morning practice – on the front row after a best qualifying lap of 59.3592 in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. It was the best non-oval qualifying performance this season for Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge pole winner Dixon, whose previous best road/street qualifying effort was fifth at the last race, The Honda Indy 200 on July 3 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Two-time series champion Josef Newgarden, who leads the series this season with three wins, qualified third at 59.5257 in the No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet. He will share Row 2 with Alexander Rossi, who qualified fourth at 59.5544 in the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS/AutoNation Honda.
David Malukas was the top-qualifying rookie with a career-best starting spot of fifth after a lap of 59.6140 in the No. 18 HMD Honda. Scott McLaughlin rounded out the Firestone Fast Six at 59.9558 in the No. 3 XPEL Team Penske Chevrolet.
NTT P1 Award qualifying provided a mixed bag of results for contenders for the Astor Challenge Cup as series champion on the 11-turn, 1.786-mile temporary circuit on the streets of Exhibition Place in Canada’s largest city.
Points leader and 2021 Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge winner Marcus Ericsson qualified ninth in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.
Ericsson’s closest pursuer, 2014 series champion Will Power, endured a third consecutive event with a frustrating qualifying result. He will start 16th in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet after his final hot lap in the first qualifying session was halted when Kyle Kirkwood crashed his No. 14 Sexton Properties Chevrolet in Turn 8, triggering a red flag and ending the group’s session.
Power has qualified 15th or lower in the last three road course races on the schedule yet has rallied to finish first and third in two of them, at Belle Isle and Mid-Ohio, respectively.
“I should know that you must stay in the top six every time because this can happen,” Power said of losing his lap to Kirkwood’s incident. “I had a really fast car again. It is crazy. That’s three races in a row we’ve been like P2 in practice before qualifying and then between 15th and 19th. Frustrating, man. Frustrating. I got to Turn 6 and was up four-tenths. That would have got us through.”
Newgarden, third in points, is in good shape to possibly gain ground on Ericsson and Power with the third starting spot Sunday.
But the next two drivers in the standings, fourth-place Alex Palou and fifth-place Pato O’Ward, have a lot of work to do.
Reigning series champion Palou slowed on track and stopped in his qualifying group in the first session and will start 22nd in the 25-car field in the No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. O’Ward clipped the wall with his No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet during his first group, didn’t advance and will start 15th.
There was bright spot for the enthusiastic crowd of Canadian fans, back in droves under sunny skies after this event was put on hold in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Toronto area native and series rookie Devlin DeFrancesco qualified a career-best 12th in the No. 29 PowerTap Honda.