The start of qualifying was delayed by 30mins as low-hanging cloud had slowed the arrival of the medical helicopter. Heavy rain earlier in the morning obliged drivers in Group 1 to head out on rain tires, slithering around on the treacherous blend of wet asphalt and leaking sealant.
Takuma Sato, Alex Palou, and the Andretti Autosport-Hondas of Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi all suffered spins. But it was Charlie Kimball that brought out the first red flag with a spin and stall exiting Turn 1 in his AJ Foyt Racing-Chevy. At that point, Simon Pagenaud had put his Team Penske-Chevy on top, ahead of Santino Ferrucci’s Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan-Honda, Rossi, Oliver Askew of Arrow McLaren SP-Chevy.
But Pagenaud ran off the road at the penultimate corner, allowing Ferrucci and Hunter-Reay ahead on the track, and ahead on the timing screens. Palou in the Coyne with Team Goh sister car to Ferrucci moved up to second but then pitted while Ferrucci carried on chiseling away at his time, eventually winding up 3.24sec faster than Palou.
Pagenaud later recovered to edge Hunter-Reay and Rossi for third.
Group 2 began with Power trying to pass Josef Newgarden at Turn 2 to get a clear track ahead, but with the champion hanging on around the outside, yesterday’s winner was obliged to exit the corner on the slippery line and lost the rear. Looping to the outside, he got beached on the curb and that brought out the reds. Zach Veach joined him on the inside of the track, while further around the lap, Jack Harvey spun and went off at Turn 12, making solid rear end contact with the tire wall. None of the three would be allowed further participation in the session, although for Harvey that was a moot point.
Marco Andretti elected to restart the session on slicks but the session went red again almost immediately as Pato O’Ward spun and beached his Arrow McLaren SP #5 in the sandtrap at Turn 2.
Andretti ran out of track time for his tactics to work, however, as there was still so much dampness in Turn 11 and he fell 1.2sec off the ultimate pace.
That was set by Herta who scored his third IndyCar pole with a 1min26.279sec lap, 0.8sec ahead of the Chip Ganassi Racing-Hondas of Scott Dixon and Felix Rosenqvist. Andretti was fourth, fast enough to bump Newgarden down to fifth, and therefore a P9 start.
The second round of the Honda Indy 200 is set to begin at 1pm local (Eastern) time.
Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan
Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh
Arrow McLaren SP
Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport
Andretti Herta Autosport with Marco & Curb-Agajani
Arrow McLaren SP