By: Spencer Neff
April 9, 2022
Following Chevrolet and Team Penske’s dominance of the opening two races, Honda came into the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach wanting to even things up.
2021 race winner Colton Herta set a new track record (1m05.3095-108.480 mph) on his way to his first pole since Laguna Seca in last season’s penultimate race. The No. 26 entry was .4455 of a second clear of the field in the final round of qualifying.
Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden will look to make it two wins in a row, lining up on the front row next to Herta. Alex Palou, Felix Rosenqvist, Alexander Rossi and Romain Grosjean completed the first three rows.
After starting a disappointing 14th on the way to last year’s win, the Andretti Autosport driver earned his eighth career pole. Previously, Herta’s best start at his home race was a 10th during his rookie season (2019). Now, he will look to give his team their fourth consecutive win on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn street course.
Here’s a look at how all three rounds of qualifying unfolded for the 26-car field:
Group 1: Results
McLaughlin was the first to break the track record but it would not hold for long. Herta would top the 13 cars in the session as the top four broke the track record with a lap of 1m05.7283 (107.789 mph). Rossi, Rosenqvist Kirkwood and Ericsson also would move on to Round 2.
Graham Rahal narrowly missed the Fast 12, along with Rinus VeeKay, Devlin DeFrancesco, David Malukas, Jack Harvey, Takuma Sato and Jimmie Johnson. Those seven will line up on the inside of their respective rows.
Group 2: Results
In the second opening round group, all six drivers to advance topped the 2017 track record previously set by Helio Castroneves. After leading Saturday morning’s practice, Grosjean was again on top of the leader board (1m05.7468-107.759 mph). Pagenaud, who led Friday’s practice, was second. The other four advancing were Power, Newgarden, Palou and O’Ward.
The seven drivers knocked out in Round 1 were Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Conor Daly,Christian Lundgaard, Callum Ilott, Dalton Kellett and Tatiana Calderon. They will start on the outside of Rows 7-13.
Round 2/Fast 12
Herta once again led the way, further breaking the track record with a best lap of 1m05.4057 (108.321 mph), 0.1718 seconds up on Rossi. Following them into the Fast Six were Rosenqvist, Newgarden, Palou and Grosjean.
Despite a lengthy review by Race Control, the results stood and Will Power would start seventh, .0001 of a second out of the Fast Six. Ericsson, McLaughlin, Pagenaud, O’Ward and Kirkwood also missed the run for the pole and will start seventh through 12th tomorrow.
Round 3/Fast 6
After posting another blistering lap, Herta stayed ahead of the pack. However, the pole did not come without its share of drama. With time dwindling in the session, Grosjean crashed into the Turn 5 tire barrier.
While the red flag was displayed, confusion set in among the teams as to the protocol. Once the red flag was lifted, INDYCAR granted teams an additional flying lap. However, only Rossi and Rosenqvist took advantage. Unfortunately, the gamble did not yield an improvement in position for either driver and the Top Six remained as it had been.
With qualifying done, the final prepartations for Sunday’s race begin. Here is the on-track schedule for tomorrow. All times listed are local track times (Pacific). Continue with IndyCar1909 and all our platforms for the latest on the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Sunday, April 10
9-9:30 a.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES warmup, Peacock Premium (live) Noon – Driver introductions
Noon – NBC on air
12:38 p.m. – Start engines command
12:45 p.m. – Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach (85 laps/167.28 miles), NBC and Peacock Premium (live)
Header Image By Chris Jones/INDYCAR