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IndyCar Portland

Herta shines despite brutal Portland IndyCar qualifying for Andretti

Colton Herta provided the lone spark for Andretti Autosport at the conclusion of IndyCar qualifying on Saturday at Portland International Raceway.

Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda

The 23-year-old Californian’s lap of 58.4576s around the 1.964-mile, 12-turn natural terrain road course was enough to claim third in the Fast Six shootout, which was 0.1381s off the pole-winning mark set by Graham Rahal.

Herta was among five drivers to opt for the alternate, red sidewall tires in the fight for pole, with Rahal the only driver that elected to go with the harder primary, black sidewall compound.

“It's a cat and mouse game and you have to be willing to give up a little bit, strategy-wise, to gain that pole,” Herta said. “We thought the reds were going to be better, I think for us they are the best. Our Gainbridge car has come a long way this weekend… so I'm happy with that.

“Happy with how everyone is working, the team is great, and happy to get two Hondas in the top three also.”

It was a dramatic turnaround for Herta, who was 20th and 14th in each of the two practices ahead of qualifying.

“The slightest mistake can knock you out of qualifying or be the difference in five or six spots in the race,” Herta said. “We put everything together and I'm happy with how the car felt. Hopefully we can go from here and keep making it better.”

Romain Grosjean, Andretti Autosport Honda

Romain Grosjean, Andretti Autosport Honda

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

No other Andretti Autosport driver advanced into the Fast 12. In fact, the closest team-mate in Herta’s rearview was Romain Grosjean in 15th – who was infuriated that RLL’s Christian Lundgaard balked him.

“We don't have an amazing car but it was good enough to go through,” said a livid Grosjean. “I got the 45 on my first timed lap and on the next lap I was up in his gearbox, so I don't understand why he didn't get a penalty, why he didn't move.

“We're not through just because of that. People need to move out of the way when they're in your way.”

Kyle Kirkwood, who was second in Friday’s opening practice, was next up in 16th, while Devlin DeFrancesco was 21st.

“Obviously not happy with 16th after being so quick yesterday,” Kirkwood said, following his early exit in Q1. “Not sure what we missed there, we thought if we went back to what we had yesterday we'd be good and for some reason the balance just wasn't right, especially on the alternate tires.

“I'm not going to lie, we're scratching our heads a little bit. Colton went really quick, so hopefully we can get a base [setup] off of him tomorrow. To be honest, Colton's been battling the same sort of thing since yesterday, and they've got it under control.

“We weren't battling it yesterday and kind of just didn't adjust for it that much. And now we are.

“Colton is quite a bit different from us, setup-wise, so hopefully that will be an indicator of our true direction now.”

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