INDYCAR

Ha claims NTT P1 Award as title contenders qualify in top sixert

MONTEREY, Calif. (September 21, 2019) – Like father, like son at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

Twenty years after Bryan Herta won the third of his three consecutive Indy car poles at this 11-turn, 2.238-mile permanent road course, his 19-year-old son Colton won his first Laguna Seca pole here Saturday in qualifying for Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey.

The younger Herta, who also is trying to win the NTT IndyCar Series rookie-of-the-year award, captured his third pole of the NTT IndyCar Series season and will lead the 24-car field to the green flag.

RESULTS: Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey qualifying

Following his father’s footsteps at this track clearly was meaningful to Herta, who lives with his family in Valencia, Calif.

“Yeah, it obviously means a lot with the family history,” he said. “Fifty percent of (my father’s) Indy car wins came here. It means a lot to kind of keep on the family tradition.”

Herta showed pole-level speed throughout the weekend, yet he wasn’t convinced he would capture the NTT P1 Award as practice transitioned into qualifying Saturday.

“Honestly, going into (morning practice) I thought maybe we lacked a little bit, and we didn’t have quite as big of a gap (to others),” he said. “We were (seventh) and we needed to find a little bit of time, so I was going to be happy to make it into the Fast Six. That would be an improvement, but we got there and we led every (qualifying) group we were in.”

Herta’s pole-winning lap in the Firestone Fast Six qualifying was 1 minute, 10.1405 seconds/114.867 miles per hour, scoring him a bonus point that could be important in deciding a pair of season winners. Herta might need it to win the rookie award, a championship contender might wish he had it to claim the Astor Challenge Cup.

Herta’s pole also came shortly after he was confirmed to join Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport for 2020. Sunday, he will try to earn his second career NTT IndyCar Series race win after becoming the youngest winner in series history March 24 at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. He also will try to win a race here as his father did twice (1998 and ’99).