The battle for pole at the Honda Indy in Toronto was fierce as a battle of generations saw Colton Herta and Scott Dixon put on a show on the final lap that fell in favor of the Andretti Autosport driver by just 0.0894s.
Herta blasted around the 11-corner city course with a remarkable 59.2698-second lap set by his #26 Honda and waited for Dixon to cross the finish line in his #9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Dixon’s 59.3592 was close, but not good enough as Herta took his ninth career pole and his second of 2022.
“It was an intense session,” Herta said. “We didn’t really find that time until the end. I am happy. We put it all together. The car is amazing; the team is amazing. Thank you Honda – a Honda double.
Dixon felt he had more to give but was not unhappy with second place.
“The first lap I missed and I think that changed the race,” he said. “We can win from here. Congratulations to Colton.
Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden made an impressive recovery after missing the previous session when an engine change was needed, and despite missing laps, he pushed the No. 2 Chevy into third place with a lap of 59.5257 seconds.
“It was a good recovery from our team and the car was great,” he said. “I think we have something to fight tomorrow.”
Andretti’s Alexander Rossi secured fourth place from the #27 Honda with a lap of 59.5544s. Toronto rookie honors went to Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports’ David Malukas propelling the #18 Honda to fifth with a run of 59.6140 and Penske’s Scott McLaughlin rounding out the top six in the #3 Penske Chevy team with a 59.9558 the tour.
Beyond a few blocking penalties, the main problem in qualifying came when a number of riders on fast laps – Graham Rahal and Will Power, in particular – were unable to complete those high-speed laps and were likely transferred to the Firestone Fast Six segment when Racing’s AJ Foyt Kyle Kirkwood crashed and pulled out yellow flags leading towards the finish line. Rahal and Power start 14th and 16th respectively.
The first 10-minute knockout session of qualifying saw McLaughlin set the early standard with a 1m00.0527 that held until the final 90 seconds when Rossi clocked a lap of 59.7724s. Dixon took the lead from Rossi with a lap of 59.6996 and teammate Marcus Ericsson’s 59.6875 dropped to the opening seconds later.
The drivers who failed to transfer were led by Jack Harvey, a disappointed Pato O’Ward – who kissed the wall with the left rear wheel – Helio Castroneves, Takuma Sato, Jimmie Johnson and Dalton Kellett, who failed could not run after a refueling problem was reported.
The second knockout session got off to a strange start as the drivers tried to set a base lap on the slower Firestone primary tires and a flying Herta came across an extremely slow Conor Daly. IndyCar race control ruled that Daly hampered Herta and took away his two fastest laps, which allowed him to miss out on the top six.
A red flag was required midway through the session as Devlin DeFrancesco, who went to the top with a lap of 1m00.1543s, nose-dived into the tires at Turn 3 and needed several tries to pull back and Continue. As DeFrancesco dealt with his problem, Alex Palou encountered some form of engine trouble entering the front straight and cut the engine after rounding Turn 1. Sitting idling on the track, the red was agitated and the AMR security team went to retrieve the car.
At red time, the top six were DeFrancesco, Romain Grosjean, Felix Rosenqvist, Christian Lundgaard, Herta and Newgarden. With the session returning to green after the red flag consumed the remainder of the 10-minute session, drivers were given an exit lap and a timed lap in order to meet the guaranteed minimum time.
Those plans fell through when Kyle Kirkwood crashed – twice in a few corners – as he hit the wall with the rear left corner on the way to Turn 8, then had the suspension broken while going through Turn 8, hit the tires, broke the rear wing, and spun across the alternate start/finish line next to the pit entrance where timed laps end during the session. With the rest of the field racing to get to that start/finish line to improve their speed and put in a quick final lap in qualifying, everyone behind Kirkwood had their days wasted as the yellow flag waved. to his car and those drivers were forced to slow down.
The only lucky driver in the mix was Herta, who took first place before the Kirkwood incident, leaving the top six as Herta, DeFrancesco, Newgarden, Grosjean, Rosenqvist and Lundgaard.
Drivers who failed to transfer were led by Graham Rahal, Rinus VeeKay, Will Power, Simon Pagenaud, Kirkwood, Palou and Daly.
The Firestone Fast 12 session featured Rossi as the fastest driver at the start with a lap of 1m00.4841s on the main tyres, then times started to drop with five minutes to go as Callum Ilott took first with a 1m00.0689s when most riders stopped. to install the faster alternative tires and fight for P1.
Herta was the first to strike with a lap of 59.5391 and Rossi joined him with a 59.5790 as the Andretti riders briefly held a one-two before Malukas passed with a 59.4638. Rossi responded with a 59.3709 to take the lead and Newgarden moved up to second with a 59.4614.
Drivers who failed to transfer were trailed in seventh by Ilott, Rosenqvist, Ericsson, Lundgaard, Grosjean and DeFrancesco, who had his two fastest laps taken away after blocking teammate Herta.
In the race for pole, Rossi finished first with a 59.6090 on used substitutes and Dixon nearly answered second with a 59.6402. With two minutes left, Newgarden hit the wall with the left rear wheel in the same spot as Kirkwood, but was still quick enough to claim first place with a lap of 59.5257 before coming to a stop.
The final lap was a thriller as Newgarden was on pole pace but settled for third as Herta climbed to the top with a lap of 59.2698 and were joined by Dixon in the lead with a 59.3592.