Colton Herta punched his ticket to the final Firestone Fast Six of 2019 along with the four mathematically eligible NTT IndyCar Series championship contenders and beat them all to earn pole position for the season finale.
The Harding Steinbrenner Racing rookie set the fastest laps in both his Round 1 group and Round 2 minutes before doing the same in the Fast Six, during which he went 0.0426 seconds quicker than five-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon to claim the last NTT P1 Award of the year.
The 19-year-old’s 1:10.1405 lap in the Fast Six wasn’t as quick as Ryan Hunter-Reay’s top Practice 2 lap nor Herta’s own lap in Round 2 of qualifying.
Regardless, the result extended Herta’s impressive rookie season, which includes a victory in his third IndyCar start at Circuit of The Americas in March and poles at Road America and last time out at Portland International Raceway.
Herta, having swiped the last two poles of his rookie campaign, will take the green flag alongside Dixon on the front row with primary title rivals Alexander Rossi and Josef Newgarden directly behind. Colton needs two more WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca poles to tie his father Bryan at the picturesque venue.
James Hinchcliffe joined Herta and the four title contenders in the final qualifying round and wound up fifth, 0.6598 seconds from the pole. Pagenaud, third in the points entering Sunday’s contest, was 0.0613 seconds slower after slipping into the Fast Six despite a messy outing in Round 2.
Will Power, Graham Rahal, Hunter-Reay, Max Chilton, Marcus Ericsson and Santino Ferrucci showed well in qualifying but didn’t make the cut for the Fast Six at the conclusion of Round 2. They’ll fill positions six through 12 on the starting grid.
Conor Daly was just outside that group in 13th while Felix Rosenqvist is scored 14th on the final qualifying results after losing his two fastest laps and the chance to advance to the Fast Six when he ran off at Turn 6 and spun at the exit, impeding Hinchcliffe. The Chip Ganassi Racing rookie had the fastest lap in pre-qualifying practice.
Meyer Shank Racing’s Honda will start 24th and last during its final race in association with Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports after Jack Harvey was eliminated in Group 2 of Round 1.
One more session remains of IndyCar’s 2019 season: the 90-lap race at Laguna Seca. NBC’s live telecast of the season-ending event will open at 2:30 p.m. EDT with the green flag expected at 12:15 p.m. track local time (3:15 p.m. EDT).