St. Pete IndyCar: Herta beats Harvey to pole position

Andretti Autosport-Honda’s Colton Herta snatched pole from his semi-teammate Jack Harvey in the dying seconds of an IndyCar qualifying session full of surprises.

Herta went a quarter-second faster than Harvey with his final run to claim pole for the 2021 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, with a 60.3210sec effort on his fourth lap.

Harvey however can be satisfied to have laid down a 60.5 on his second lap, beating Team Penske duo Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud.

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Given several teams’ struggles to lay down a fast lap on the Firestone alternate tires through Q1 and Q2, Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet driver Pato O’Ward went out on fresh primary tires and stayed on them, but the tactic didn’t pay off and he wound up sixth, 0.75sec from top spot. He will start alongside two-time St. Pete winner Sebastien Bourdais, who as in the opening race at Barber Motorsports Park, has again done justice to his AJ Foyt Racing-Chevy.

P

No

Name

FTime

Diff

FL

Laps

FSpeed

Engine

Tire

Team

1

26

Colton Herta

1:00.3210

1:00.3210

4

4

107.425

Honda

A

Andretti Autosport

2

60

Jack Harvey

1:00.5709

0.2499

2

3

106.982

Honda

A

Meyer Shank Racing

3

2

Josef Newgarden

1:00.6078

0.2868

3

3

106.917

Chevy

A

Team Penske

4

22

Simon Pagenaud

1:00.6353

0.3143

4

4

106.868

Chevy

A

Team Penske

5

14

Sebastien Bourdais

1:01.0017

0.6807

4

4

106.227

Chevy

A

AJ Foyt Enterprises

6

5

Pato O'Ward

1:01.0799

0.7589

5

5

106.091

Chevy

P

Arrow McLaren SP

Q2

Newgarden was fastest on primary tires again with 60.6557sec lap, and he was only slightly shaded by Rinus VeeKay and Alexander Rossi on alternate tires. Finally, Newgarden laid down a strong lap on reds to claim a 60.3827, only to see Herta clip 0.0059sec off that time to claim top spot – and then improve further with a 60.2207.

Late improvements from Sebastien Bourdais of AJ Foyt Racing and Jack Harvey (Meyer Shank Racing) saw Ganassi aces Scott Dixon and Alex Palou, the Barber winner, bumped out of the Firestone Fast Six, along with Alexander Rossi.

Dixon told Peacock: “Scraped through Round 1, just really struggled with corner entry. Caught me out for sure. Tires didn’t come in, and you end up missing just by a few hundredths. A lot of good guys struggling to get their laps in.”

However, he pointed out that the race “can be pretty crazy here, strategy-wise.”

P

No

Name

FTime

Diff

FL

Laps

FSpeed

Engine

Tire

Team

1

26

Colton Herta

1:00.2207

1:00.2207

7

7

107.604

Honda

A

Andretti Autosport

2

2

Josef Newgarden

1:00.3428

0.1221

8

8

107.386

Chevy

A

Team Penske

3

14

Sebastien Bourdais

1:00.3573

0.1366

8

8

107.361

Chevy

A

AJ Foyt Enterprises

4

5

Pato O'Ward

1:00.3999

0.1792

8

8

107.285

Chevy

A

Arrow McLaren SP

5

60

Jack Harvey

1:00.4262

0.2055

7

7

107.238

Honda

A

Meyer Shank Racing

6

22

Simon Pagenaud

1:00.4385

0.2178

8

8

107.216

Chevy

A

Team Penske

7

21

Rinus VeeKay

1:00.4858

0.2651

7

8

107.133

Chevy

A

Ed Carpenter Racing

8

9

Scott Dixon

1:00.4997

0.2790

8

8

107.108

Honda

A

Chip Ganassi Racing

9

15

Graham Rahal

1:00.5678

0.3471

8

8

106.988

Honda

A

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

10

10

Alex Palou

1:00.6220

0.4013

8

8

106.892

Honda

A

Chip Ganassi Racing

11

27

Alexander Rossi

1:00.6476

0.4269

6

7

106.847

Honda

A

Andretti Autosport

12

29

James Hinchcliffe

1:00.8671

0.6464

8

8

106.461

Honda

A

Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport

Q1 Group 2

Team Penske’s remarkable rookie Scott McLaughlin was the fastest on Firestone primaries, beating teammates Josef Newgarden and Will Power and ducking under the 61sec barrier before everyone ducked in for Firestone alternates.

On reds, it was a very different story, as Newgarden went top and both McLaughlin and Power fell foul of the top six cut off. Power, who had been struggling with his handling in the morning practice too and had also had a brake change, grazed the wall and bent a toe link on what should have been his fastest run, consigning the nine-time St. Pete polesitter to the 10th row of the grid.

Two drivers who had been angered by Dalton Kellett getting in their way, namely Graham Rahal and Rinus VeeKay, both got through to Q2 for RLL-Honda and ECR-Chevy respectively, sandwiching Jack Harvey of Meyer Shank Racing.

James Hinchcliffe and Alex Palou also moved into Q2 but Romain Grosjean in the Dale Coyne Racing with RWR-Honda did not.

P

No

Name

FTime

Diff

FL

Laps

FSpeed

Engine

Tire

Team

1

2

Josef Newgarden

1:00.4437

1:00.4437

7

8

107.207

Chevy

A

Team Penske

2

15

Graham Rahal

1:00.4825

0.0388

8

8

107.138

Honda

A

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

3

60

Jack Harvey

1:00.5028

0.0591

7

8

107.102

Honda

A

Meyer Shank Racing

4

21

Rinus VeeKay

1:00.5414

0.0977

8

8

107.034

Chevy

A

Ed Carpenter Racing

5

29

James Hinchcliffe

1:00.6368

0.1931

7

7

106.866

Honda

A

Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport

6

10

Alex Palou

1:00.6521

0.2084

8

8

106.839

Honda

A

Chip Ganassi Racing

7

3

Scott McLaughlin

1:00.7044

0.2607

8

8

106.747

Chevy

A

Team Penske

8

8

Marcus Ericsson

1:00.7058

0.2621

8

8

106.744

Honda

A

Chip Ganassi Racing

9

51

Romain Grosjean

1:00.8127

0.3690

8

8

106.557

Honda

A

Dale Coyne Racing w/Rick Ware Racing

10

12

Will Power

1:01.1140

0.6703

7

8

106.031

Chevy

A

Team Penske

11

59

Max Chilton

1:01.5065

1.0628

5

7

105.355

Chevy

A

Carlin

12

4

Dalton Kellett

1:02.1165

1.6728

7

7

104.320

Chevy

A

AJ Foyt Enterprises

Q1 Group 1

Ed Jones and Jimmie Johnson hit the track on Firestone reds straight away but it didn’t seem to serve them well as the track was still dirty from the Stadium Super Trucks race.

Scott Dixon had a spin on his primary tires but kept it off the barriers and didn’t even need to use the escape road. However, he got a penalty and would have to lose his best lap, yet despite an alarming sideways moment under braking, he got through to Q2 with his second fastest time.

Alexander Rossi set fastest time with a 60.2949sec ahead of teammate Herta, but Ryan Hunter-Reay, who’d also served a penalty for going down an access road and causing a yellow, was only seventh with his second best time.

Also among the eliminated was the second Arrow McLaren SP-Chevy of Felix Rosenqvist.

P

No

Name

FTime

Diff

LapTime

Laps

FL

Gap

1

27

Alexander Rossi

1:00.2949

1:00.2949

1:00.2949

7

7

0.000

2

26

Colton Herta

1:00.3659

0.0710

1:00.3659

7

7

0.0710

3

5

Pato O'Ward

1:00.6026

0.3077

1:03.5074

8

7

0.2367

4

22

Simon Pagenaud

1:00.6375

0.3426

1:00.7244

8

7

0.0349

5

14

Sebastien Bourdais

1:00.7182

0.4233

1:01.1788

8

7

0.0807

6

9

Scott Dixon

1:00.7921

0.4972

1:02.2100

8

7

0.0739

7

28

Ryan Hunter-Reay

1:00.8524

0.5575

1:00.8524

8

8

0.0603

8

30

Takuma Sato

1:00.9167

0.6218

1:01.0823

8

7

0.0643

9

7

Felix Rosenqvist

1:00.9569

0.6620

1:00.9569

7

7

0.0402

10

20

Conor Daly

1:01.4220

1.1271

1:01.4220

8

8

0.4651

11

18

Ed Jones

1:01.4453

1.1504

1:01.4453

8

8

0.0233

12

48

Jimmie Johnson

1:01.8364

1.5415

1:02.6400

8

7

0.3911

 

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Event St. Pete
Author David Malsher-Lopez
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