Defending champion Colton Herta won the pole for Sunday’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach IndyCar race with a record-setting performance Saturday.

Herta completed a lap of the 1.97-mile, 11-turn street circuit surrounding the Long Beach Convention Center in a track-record one minute, 5.3095 seconds, 108.48 mph, breaking the previous record of 1:06.2254 set by Helio Castroneves in 2017.

“We had a great car,” Herta said after winning the eighth pole of his 51-race career in the NTT IndyCar Series and first of the three races in the 2022 season. “Yesterday was a struggle for us. We kind of went to the drawing board overnight, brought something completely different out for today. It worked really well.”

Herta had the sixth-fastest time during practice Friday, completing a lap in 1:07.8783.

Josef Newgarden will join Herta in the front row of the 26-car field after his top lap of 1:05.7550.

“Colton had definitely a better life on his tires going into the Fast 6. We had to use three laps apiece in Q1 and Q2 just to find our gaps, get our laps together,” Newgarden said, referring to the first two rounds of qualifying. “Unfortunately we didn’t have quite as good of a tire in the Fast 6.”

All five drivers with official laps in the Firestone Fast Six were quicker than Castroneves’ track record from five years ago while 11 of the 26 drivers who turned qualifying laps Saturday were quicker than Castroneves’ record.

After last year’s victory, Herta called the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach “the biggest race for me outside of” the Indianapolis 500.

“This is the first race I ever was able to come to,” said Herta, who was raised in Valencia and turned 22 March 30. “I was two weeks old when I first came to Long Beach. My father (Bryan) was driving in 2000. It was the only race I could go to because I was so young and I couldn’t fly yet.

“I remember growing up around here, coming to this race every year when I was 5, 6, 7, all the way up until I was racing in IndyCar in 2019.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.