Colton Herta takes pole in starting lineup for inaugural Music City Grand Prix in Nashville
IndyCar starting lineup: NASHVILLE -- Colton Herta crushed the field in qualifying to capture the pole Saturday for the inaugural Music City Grand Prix.
The Andretti Autosport driver, who already had paced the first two practices on the 11-turn, 2.17-mile track, remained dominant on the streets of downtown Nashville by posting a 1-minute, 13.6835-second lap in his No. 26 Dallara-Honda .
Scott Dixon qualified a distant second (1:14.2327), more than a half-second behind Herta.
It’s the sixth career pole position for Herta and his first since a victory in the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg three months ago. He was able to save his faster alternate tires for the final two rounds after setting the second-quickest time in Group 2 of Round 1.
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“It was a good lap, but what we did in Q1 really helped us,” Herta, who has won the past three times he has started first, told NBC Sports pit reporter Marty Snider. “The car is fantastic. We’re really in a league of our own. It felt amazing. Good car to take into the race tomorrow, nice and stable. So real excited.”
Alex Palou qualified third (but will start ninth because of a six-position grid penalty), followed by Alexander Rossi, Felix Roseqnvist and Romain Grosjean, who advanced to the final round after a crash penalty to Josef Newgarden.
The hometown favorite’s bid for a fourth consecutive pole position ended in Turn 11 as he slammed the wall hard with the right front of his No. 2 Dallara-Chevrolet.
Because he caused a yellow at the end of the session, the two-time IndyCar champion lost his best lap time and dropped to a 12th-place starting position for the race, which will take place about 10 minutes from his house in downtown Nashville.
“Disappointing, I was just trying to make up the deficit,” Newgarden told Snider. “Good to be here in Nashville, though. Everyone has done a great job of bringing this event to this city, and this is the city where IndyCar needs to be, so I’m really proud to be from here. This is crazy cool. I’d never dreamed of this actually getting off the ground. Pretty pumped for (Sunday). Just wish we were higher up. Just trying to claw some performance back, and I overpushed.
“We’ve got a fast car. We can make something of it. It’s just going to be harder now. You can’t wreck and not get penalized. That’s on me. This is a quick weekend. You take a swing at a new track like this, it’s either right on or a little off. We’ve worked really hard at trying to be as prepared as possible. I think we’ve gotten more performance back. We were a lot closer, I just overstepped.”
Among the notables who will be coming from the rear after failing to advance from Round 1: Graham Rahal, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Helio Castroneves, Sebastien Bourdai, Rinus VeeKay, Scott McLaughlin and Takuma Sato.
Jimmie Johnson will start 25th of 27 cars Sunday after crashing in Turn 10 on his opening lap of the session.
It’s a tough break for the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, whose No. 48 Dallara-Honda had shown flashes of speed during practices Friday and Saturday while many veterans struggled. Johnson remained optimistic about his chances Sunday.
“What a bummer,” Johnson said. “I had a great day in practice and really been enjoying the course. On my out lap trying to get the tires up to temp, I was too aggressive into Turn 10 starting my lap. Locked the inside tire, found the inside wall.
“Another rookie lesson learned. I’ll file that away with that expereince. I think we’re going to have a fast car for the race.”
During a wild practice Saturday, Alexander Rossi, Scott McLaughlin and six-time champion Scott Dixon all found the wall on the tight circuit.
“It looked like a zoo out there,” Herta told Snider. “Whole bunch of exhibits in Turn 9 and Turn 4.”
STARTING LINEUP FOR THE MUSIC CITY GRAND PRIX IN NASHVILLE
(Qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, engine, time and speed)
1. (26) Colton Herta, Honda, 01:13.6835 (102.601)
2. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 01:14.2327 (101.842)
3. (10) Alex Palou, Honda, 01:14.6316 (101.298)
4. (27) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 01:14.6646 (101.253)
5. (7) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 01:15.0045 (100.794)
6. (51) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 01:15.3980 (100.268)
7. (60) Jack Harvey, Honda, 01:15.1309 (100.624)
8. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 01:15.1354 (100.618)
9. (5) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 01:15.1914 (100.543)
10. (29) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 01:15.3255 (100.364)
11. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 01:15.5016 (100.130)
12. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 01:15.5062 (100.124)
13. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 01:16.1097 (99.330)
14. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 01:15.4984 (100.135)
15. (06) Helio Castroneves, Honda, 01:16.3479 (99.020)
16. (14) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 01:15.6055 (99.993)
17. (45) Santino Ferrucci, Honda, 01:16.4647 (98.869)
18. (8) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 01:15.6379 (99.950)
19. (4) Dalton Kellett, Chevrolet, 01:17.1516 (97.989)
20. (20) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 01:15.6685 (99.909)
21. (59) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 01:17.5553 (97.479)
22. (21) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 01:15.7029 (99.864)
23. (3) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 01:18.1899 (96.688)
24. (30) Takuma Sato, Honda, 01:15.8503 (99.670)
25. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Honda, no time, no speed
26. (18) Ed Jones, Honda, 01:15.8770 (99.635)
27. (52) Cody Ware, Honda, 01:18.0928 (96.808)