Colton Herta navigated treacherous mixed conditions Sunday morning at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course to win the NTT P1 Award for Race 2 of the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio doubleheader.
Herta earned his first pole position of the 2020 season and the fourth of his young NTT INDYCAR SERIES career with a top lap of 1 minute, 26.2788 seconds during the second qualifying group in the No. 88 Capstone Turbine #ShiftToGreen Honda. The entire qualifying session took place after a rain shower swept through Central Ohio this morning, as the grip levels changed constantly through both qualifying sessions on the drying 13-turn, 2.258-mile circuit.
Results: Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Race 2 Qualifying.
“I knew it was going to be all about that last lap,” Herta said. “Drying track, trying to hold on to the tires. Firestone makes a great wet tire, but it wasn’t really that wet out there. So, by that second lap, they were all chewed up. The Capstone powered by Honda car was amazing, and now we have the best seat in the house for the race.”
The 75-lap race starts at 1 p.m. (ET) and will be broadcast live on NBC and the Pennzoil INDYCAR Radio Network.
Santino Ferrucci, 22, will join the 20-year-old Herta on the front row in a power play from two of the series’ top young drivers. Ferrucci was the quickest in the first session at 1:27.4688 in the No. 18 SealMaster Honda. It’s the second-youngest front row in INDYCAR history, with an average age of 21.1 years.
Championship leader Scott Dixon will start third after a best lap of 1:27.0991 in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Rookie Alex Palou will start fourth after a top qualifying lap of 1:30.7107 in the No. 55 Guaranteed Rate Honda.
Dixon’s closest pursuer in the title race, two-time and reigning series champion Josef Newgarden, will start ninth after a best lap of 1:28.4174 in the No. 1 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet. Newgarden is 76 points behind Dixon in the standings.
Fellow championship contender Pato O’Ward spun off track in the second qualifying group and didn’t complete a lap in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet. He will start 21st in the 23-car field.
Newgarden also was a witness to one of the many dramatic flashpoints during the chaotic two qualifying groups. He and Team Penske teammate Will Power were the first two drivers out of the pits for the second qualifying group, each apparently trying to get out first for better visibility in the spray.
Saturday’s Race 1 winner Power spun while running side-by-side with Newgarden and ended up stuck on a curb, not completing a lap. 2014 series champion Power was unable to complete a full lap during the session and will start 17th in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet.
Power was one of many drivers who went off track or spun during qualifying, a list that included fellow Indy 500 winners Ryan Hunter-Reay, Simon Pagenaud, Alexander Rossi and Takuma Sato. Jack Harvey got the worst of the off-track excursions, backing into the tire barrier and forcing quick repairs from the hometown Meyer Shank Racing crew on the No. 60 AutoNation/Sirius XM Honda.
Another exciting, daring element of the second qualifying group was Marco Andretti’s decision to run the session on slick Firestone alternate tires while the rest of the drivers used Firestone rain tires. Andretti danced all over the track with superb car control in the final three-plus minute run, but his gamble fell short as the track dried. He will start seventh in the No. 98 Surgere/Curb Honda.