Colton Herta took advantage of a drying track to snare the pole position for Sunday’s IndyCar race at Mid-Ohio but Santino Ferrucci stole the show and very nearly the top spot.
Heavy rain an hour before qualifying began left the legendary road course slippery and there was a distinct advantage to being in Group 2 as the sun came out and the track was starting to dry.
Herta, who at 19 became the youngest pole winner in NTT IndyCar Series history a year ago ago at Road America, threw down a lap of 1m26.278s in his Andretti Autosport Honda.
“I knew we were only going to get two laps and by the second lap my tires were pretty chewed up so it was all about that last lap,” said the second generation driver. “But we’ve got the best seat in the house.”
Taking nothing away from Herta but Ferrucci turned in the drive of the session, which saw Saturday’s winner Will Power spin and bring out the red flag before he could complete a lap in Group 1. Even though the track was still very wet, the 22-year-old American put on a display of car control that blew everyone away.
His lap of 1m27.468s in the Seal Master Honda was three seconds faster than rookie Alex Palou and gave the Vasser/Sullivan/Coyne team the temporary pole until a series of red flags and a drying track opened the door for Herta.
“I ran here in the rain in 2013 in an F2000 car and it was fun then and fun today,” said Ferrucci, whose aggressiveness got him fourth at Indianapolis last month. “Hopefully we can give Group 2 a challenge.”
Points leader Scott Dixon qualified third after a rough Saturday, while Palou gave Dale Coyne’s team a great start and lines up fourth.
Power, who led 61 laps and dominated Saturday’s opener of the 75-lap doubleheader, was dueling with teammate Josef Newgarden to try and get a clean track when he spun exiting the carousel. He wound up in the sand trap and starts 17th. Newgarden, 75 points behind Dixon with four races remaining in 2020, will start ninth.
The Honda Indy 200 starts at 1:00 p.m. ET and airs live on NBC.