Colton Herta pips Scott Dixon to pole position for Laguna Seca season finale
Colton Herta narrowly beat Scott Dixon to claim his third pole position of the season for the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterrey at the WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca.
Herta – who was recently confirmed that he would be joining the Andretti Autosport squad for the 2020 NTT IndyCar Season – outpaced his well-experienced rivals to ensure his #88 Capstone-Honda would lead the field away for the final race of the season.
The 19-year old will have a tremendous shot at claiming the Rookie Of The Year title after Chip Ganassi's Felix Rosenqvist was forced out of qualifying due to a mistake in Q1, which saw his times deleted and he was therefore not permitted through to the Fast 12 for causing a yellow flag and impeding James Hinchcliffe.
Rosenqvist's team-mate Scott Dixon has now gone without a pole position since the 2017 Indianapolis 500 and will join Herta on the front row, narrowly missing out on the top spot by just 0.043s.
Andretti Autosport's Alexander Rossi could only manage third place on the grid in the #27 NAPA-Honda but will start ahead of his main title rivals for Sunday's race.
Also on row two and setting a tense first lap for the championship decider in fourth place will be championship leader Josef Newgarden, the 2017 series champion made a mistake on his final run into Turn 2 and lost his chance at the pole – the Tennessee racer needs fourth to guarantee him the crown.
Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports' Hinchcliffe only completed the one run in the Firestone Fast Six session which was good enough to start from fifth place.
Team Penske's Simon Pagenaud appeared to lose pace in his #22 DXC Technology-Chevrolet over the course of the qualifying session and looked to struggle at the end to get closer to his championship rivals.
Penske team-mate Will Power missed out on the Fast Six by just 0.006s after a mistake on his final lap, but crucially is still close enough to the front to potentially help his title-contending team-mates in seventh.
Graham Rahal will join Power on the fourth row as he looks to try and end his season on a high with his Rahal Letterman Lanigan squad.
Ryan Hunter-Reay and Carlin's Max Chilton round out the top 10.
Having topped the combined times from the practice sessions Rosenqvist had been tipped to be the favourite for the win but will have to start the race from 14th on the grid.
Sunday's 90-lap Firestone Grand Prix of Monterrey is scheduled to get underway at 3:15pm local time.