ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (AP) — Colton Herta became the youngest pole winner in IndyCar history Saturday, topping qualifying at Road America with a lap of 1 minute, 42.9920 seconds on the 4.014-mile circuit.
At 19 years, 83 days, Herta broke the mark of 20 years, 90 days set by Graham Rahal in 2009 at St. Petersburg.
Not bad for a driver who “hated” the way his car was handling in the first practice session of the weekend.
“We were near the back,” Herta said. “But there hasn’t been a race track that we’ve gone to that I haven’t felt comfortable with the race car or the qualifying car. I knew we could get there if we put our heads down and got to it.”
Herta, the son of former IndyCar driver Bryan Herta, raced to his first career victory in Austin, Texas, this year. The pole also was the first for Harding-Steinbrenner Racing, the team co-owned by George Steinbrenner IV, grandson of the late New York Yankees owner.
“There have been very few guys in my career that have come along that were as young as him, No. 1, but No. 2, in as good of a position as he is,” Rahal said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody in that position and so he’s done an excellent job fulfilling that, taking advantage of it and making it happen. Which says a lot, right? Because there’s guys who can go in good equipment and can’t get it done.”
Alexander Rossi will start second Sunday, followed by Will Power, Josef Newgarden, Rahal and Takuma Sato.
Andretti Autosport has a technical alliance with Herta’s Harding-Steinbrenner team — so, with Rossi starting second, Andretti technically swept the front row on Saturday.
“To me the Andretti cars are the best cars this year, best cars everywhere,” Rahal said. “It’s impressive. It’s really impressive when you look at the six of them, however many there are. Feels like 30 of them.”