Grosjean Heads Honda, Andretti Front Row Sweep in St. Petersburg Qualifying
- Romain Grosjean scores his second career NTT INDYCAR SERIES pole in qualifying for Sunday’s season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
- Colton Herta completes front row sweep for Honda and Andretti Autosport
- Honda drivers claim four of the top-five qualifying positions
Former Formula One driver Romain Grosjean claimed his second career NTT INDYCAR SERIES pole position, going P1 in the final round of “knockout” qualifying to open the season at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
The Swiss-born Florida resident put his #28 Andretti Autosport Honda first on the grid with a lap time of 59.5532 at his “home” race, lining up alongside teammate Colton Herta aboard the #26 Andretti Autosport Honda.
The pole for Grosjean and Honda was also the first for a major racing series using 100% renewable fuel. The second-generation ethanol supplied to the full INDYCAR field by Shell provides a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and does not impact the food chain.
Marcus Ericsson, driving the #8 Honda Indy Car, qualified fourth as the lone Chip Ganassi Racing entry in the Firestone Fast Six. Grosjean and Herta’s Andretti stablemate, second-year driver Kyle Kirkwood, shone through practice and the first two qualifying rounds, making it through to the Firestone Fast Six before crashing on his first lap of the final segment of qualifying. He will start fifth in the #27 Andretti Autosport Dallara Honda.
Ganassi’s Alex Palou and Scott Dixon qualified seventh and ninth, respectively; and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Christian Lundgaard also advanced to second-round qualifying and will roll off eleventh at the start of Sunday’s 100-lap race.
Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Honda Qualifying Results
- 1st Romain Grosjean Andretti Autosport Honda
- 2nd Colton Herta Andretti Autosport Honda
- 4th Marcus Ericsson Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
- 5th Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Autosport Honda
- 7th Alex Palou Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
- 9th Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
- 11th Christian Lundgaard Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda
- 13th Marcus Armstrong-R Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
- 15th Helio Castroneves Meyer Shank Racing Honda
- 16th David Malukas Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Honda
- 18th Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Autosport Honda
- 19th Jack Harvey Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda
- 20th Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda
- 23rd Sting Ray Robb-R Dale Coyne Racing with RWR Honda
- 25th Simon Pagenaud Meyer Shank Racing Honda
R – Rookie
Romain Grosjean (#28 Andretti Autosport Honda) pole qualifier; second career INDYCAR pole: “We pulled it out. I knew last year something was just not coming my way. We worked hard [in the off-season], and we found something. We got here, and I said to the boys, ‘Yeah, we’ve got something.’ You know, St. Petersburg is kind of a home race. We’ve got 100 laps tomorrow to make [a victory] happen.”
Colton Herta (#26 Andretti Autosport Honda) will start on the outside front row, second: “My driving on that last lap could have been better. I was about as useful as gum on a boot heel. We’re still in a great spot, starting second, but it’s a pole we could’ve gotten, if I hadn’t made a mess of the last lap. Happy to be starting P2, it’s a great spot to start. Hopefully we can slot in behind [pole qualifier and teammate Romain] Grosjean and then go from there.
Marcus Ericsson (#8 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) will start on the second row fourth, defending Indianapolis 500 winner: “This is a very good start for us. We were talking about how we need to improve our qualifying, and we worked really hard on this in the off-season: how to better understand how the tires work, and working on myself to perform in qualifying. It really shows today. I’m extremely happy with P4, we definitely can win from here.”
- Honda-powered drivers have won 10 of the 18 NTT INDYCAR SERIES races at St. Petersburg since the event was revived for the 2005 season. The late Dan Wheldon led a Honda and Andretti Green Racing sweep of the top four positions in the inaugural 2005 event; while Colton Herta dominated in 2021 for Honda and Andretti Autosport.
- Other Honda winners on the streets of St. Petersburg include local resident Sebastian Bourdais in 2017-18; Helio Castroneves in 2006 and ’07; Graham Rahal in 2008; Team Penske’s Ryan Briscoe and Will Power in 2009 and ’10, respectively; and Dario Franchitti in 2011.