Herta Takes Honda to the Pole at Laguna Seca

Colton Herta, Alexander Rossi make up an all-Andretti Autosport Honda front row for Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey
Championship leader Alex Palou qualifies fourth, Oliver Askew to start fifth
Honda drivers, teams take four of top six in qualifying

MONTEREY, Calif. (Sept. 18, 2021) – For the second consecutive weekend, Honda drivers and teams dominated qualifying today at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, sweeping the front row and claiming eight of the top 12 starting positions for Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey.

Honda drivers previously swept the top three positions in qualifying for last Sunday’s Grand Prix of Portland, with championship points leader Alex Palou going on to score his third NTT INDYCAR SERIES victory of the season.

In today’s qualifying action, Colton Herta claimed his second consecutive Laguna Seca pole, and the seventh of his Indy car career, with teammate Alexander Rossi completing an Andretti Autosport Honda sweep of the front row. Palou will start tomorrow’s penultimate race of the 2021 season from fourth for Chip Ganassi Racing, with Oliver Askew qualifying an impressive fifth in just his second race with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey Honda Qualifying Results
1st Colton Herta Andretti Autosport Honda
2ndAlexander Rossi Andretti Autosport Honda
4th Alex Palou Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
5th Oliver Askew Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda
7th Marcus Ericsson Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
8th Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
11th James Hinchcliffe Andretti Autosport Honda
12th Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda
13th Romain Grosjean-R Dale Coyne Racing with RWR Honda
14th Ed Jones Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan Honda
19th Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport Honda
20th Jack Harvey Meyer Shank Racing Honda
22nd Helio Castroneves Meyer Shank Racing Honda
23rd Takuma Sato Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda
25th Jimmie Johnson-R Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
R – Rookie

Colton Herta (Andretti Autosport Honda) Pole qualifier, third pole of 2021, seventh career Indy car pole “We have a great car, to be honest. It’s awesome to be powered by Honda. What an amazing track, I love this place. You have to drive right to 100% at this track, especially in the final [qualifying] round when you’re on used tires on a track that typically uses up tires quickly. Tire [wear] will also be critical here tomorrow, we need to learn how long we can make the tires last before the big ‘fall off’ in times takes place.”

Alex Palou (Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) Championship points leader, qualified fourth: “It was an interesting session, I would say. We lacked a bit of pace in [the first round of qualifying], but we made it up in the fast 12 [second round]. We were really really strong, and I was looking forward to the fast six [final round qualifying]. But, unfortunately, we didn’t have the pace today to fight for pole position on the used ‘reds’ [soft compound Firestone tires]. Starting fourth tomorrow, the second row, is always good and we know we have a really strong race car. So, yeah, looking forward to it. Three [expected pit] stops, should be an exciting race, and hopefully we can overtake three guys!”

Oliver Askew (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda) Qualified fifth, tied his career-best Indy car starting position: “Fantastic qualifying today for the Hy-Vee #45 guys from Rahal Letterman Lanigan. I felt really good in the car, and the car complemented me as well. When you get it right around here, it feels really good. When you get it wrong, not so much—but today we got it right. It was a really enjoyable session and I’m looking forward to starting in the top five tomorrow. I know I have a really good pit crew, we had one of the best times on pit road in [his first race at] Portland and hopefully we can capitalize on that. Looking for a clean race tomorrow and hopefully we can move forward!”

Fast Facts
This is the sixth pole for Honda this season, and the second consecutive front-row lockout for the manufacturer.

Honda teams and drivers have won eight of 14 races to date this season, and currently holds a 95-point lead in the Manufacturers’ Championship (2,110-1,115) over rival Chevrolet with two races remaining. The company is seeking it’s 10th Manufacturers’ title, and fourth consecutive trophy.

In a strong all-round qualifying showing for the manufacturer, Honda drivers claimed eight of top 12 grid positions after the first round of INDYCAR “knockout” qualifying, with four Honda’s advancing to the “Fast Six” final round and then sweeping the front row for tomorrow’s 95-lap race.

Where to Watch Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey
Live network television coverage Sunday’s penultimate race in the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES starts at 3 p.m. EDT on NBC. Complete, flag-to-flag race coverage also will be available on NBC Peacock, the INDYCAR Radio Network, and on SiriusXM satellite radio.

Honda Racing social media content and video links from WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca can be found on Instagram (www.instagram.com/hondaracing_hpd), Twitter (twitter.com/HondaRacing_HPD) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/HondaRacingHPD). Additional features and long-form videos can be found on the Honda Racing/HPD YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/HondaRacingHPDTV).