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St. Petersburg starting lineup: Romain Grosjean on pole, Colton Herta second

Romain Grosejan will lead the field to green for the season opening IndyCar Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, followed by Colton Herta and Pato O'Ward.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Romain Grosjean earned his second career IndyCar pole position, besting Andretti Autosport teammate Colton Herta for the top spot in the starting lineup for Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Pete.

The Frenchman turned a lap of 59.553 seconds in the No. 28 Dallara-Honda around the 14-turn, 1.8-mile street course through the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

“We worked really hard on the car,” Grosjean told NBC Sports’ Marty Snider. “Same as last year, we were really good at the end of the year. We got here, and I said to the boys, ‘Yeah, we’ve got something.’ We pulled it out.”

The Formula One veteran, whose last pole came nearly two years ago as a rookie on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, is entering his second full season in IndyCar after finishing a disappointing 13th in the points standings last year with Andretti Autosport.

“I knew last year something was just not coming my way,” said Grosjean, who celebrated with his three children and wife (the family relocated from Europe to Miami more than a year ago). “We worked hard, and we found something.

QUALIFYING RESULTS: Click here for St. Petersburg qualifying speeds | Round 1, Group 1 | Round 1, Group 2 | Round 2 l Round 3

“It’s kind of a home race. We’ve got 100 laps tomorrow to make it happen.”

Herta qualified second (59.687 seconds) and was nearly a half-second off the pace in an uncharacteristically poor final lap.

“On that last lap, I was useless as gum on a boot heel,” Herta, who won from the pole position at St. Pete in 2021, told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee. “We’re still in a great spot. It’s a pole we definitely could have gotten. I just made a mess of the lap.”

Team owner Michael Andretti still was satisfied after three of his Dallara-Hondas made the Fast Six final round with Kyle Kirkwood (making his Andretti IndyCar debut) joining Grosjean and Herta.

SEASON OPENER: Details for watching the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg this weekend

“I think we really studied ourselves and got real honest with ourselves where we needed to improve,” said Andretti, whose team won only twice last year. “I think we’ve done it. Obviously the race is going to be another thing. Hopefully we can have all four cars go through the race without making a mistake. If that happens, I think we have a great shot at winning.”

Pato O’Ward qualified third for Arrow McLaren in the fastest performance by a Chevrolet.

“Man, those Andretti cars are quick around here,” O’Ward told NBC Sports’ Dave Burns. “We knew that coming in the weekend. The (McLaren) team arrived with such a good package. Last year, we truly started on the back foot. We’ve got a car to fight with (Sunday). I’m really, really happy with it.”

Marcus Ericsson qualified fourth, followed by Kirkwood, who crashed in Turn 10, and defending race winner Scott McLaughlin, who went off course early in trying for his second consecutive pole at St. Pete.

Kirkwood was confident after nerfing the Turn 14 wall because of a tailwind.

“It’s a little bit sketch, and I got around the corner and couldn’t get the tire to get unlocked,” he said. “Disappointed. It’s less than ideal. Ultimately, we’re in the Fast Six with three cars (for Andretti). Definitely happy with that.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum was Josef Newgarden, who qualified 14th after failing to advance from the first round by 0.04 seconds. The two-time series champion, who won at St. Pete in 2019, stormed back to the paddock after exiting his No. 2 Chevy.

Here’s the IndyCar starting lineup for Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on a 14-turn, 1.8-mile street course (qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, engine, time and speed):


1. (28) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 59.5532 (108.810 mph)
2. (26) Colton Herta, Honda, 59.9687 (108.056)


3. (5) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 1:00.0163 (107.971)
4. (8) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 1:00.4435 (107.208)


5. (27) Kyle Kirkwood, Honda, No Time (No Speed)
6. (3) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, No Time (No Speed)


7. (10) Alex Palou, Honda, 59.7781 (108.401)
8. (6) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 59.7971 (108.366)


9. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 59.8010 (108.359)
10. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 59.9482 (108.093)


11. (45) Christian Lundgaard, Honda, 59.9618 (108.069)
12. (7) Alexander Rossi, Chevrolet, 1:00.0040 (107.993)


13. (11) Marcus Armstrong, Honda, 1:00.3158 (107.435)
14. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 1:00.0605 (107.891)


15. (06) Helio Castroneves, Honda, 1:00.5049 (107.099)
16. (18) David Malukas, Honda, 1:00.0796 (107.857)


17. (14) Santino Ferrucci, Chevrolet, 1:00.5301 (107.054)
18. (29) Devlin DeFrancesco, Honda, 1:00.1798 (107.677)

ROW 10

19. (30) Jack Harvey, Honda, 1:00.7270 (106.707)
20. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 1:00.3714 (107.336)

ROW 11

21. (78) Agustin Canapino, Chevrolet, 1:01.0692 (106.109)
22. (77) Callum Ilott, Chevrolet, 1:00.3868 (107.308)

ROW 12

23. (51) Sting Ray Robb, Honda, 1:02.3711 (103.894)
24. (21) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 1:00.4831 (107.137)

ROW 13

25. (60) Simon Pagenaud, Honda, 6:37.4112 (16.306)
26. (20) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 1:00.6066 (106.919)

ROW 14

27. (55) Benjamin Pedersen, Chevrolet, 01:01.4355 (105.476)