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Rookie Herta Leads Honda Qualifiers in Indy 500

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Colon Herta at 2019 Indy 500 Practice
Photo: Honda

Colon Herta, one of six rookies who will participate in the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500, qualified ahead of all other Honda drivers, beating several former winners in the process.

Honda drivers made up 18 of the 33 total who qualified for the 2019 race, including seven previous winners and six rookies.

Herta, driving for Harding Steinbrenner Racing, set an average speed of 229.086 mph, ensuring he will start fifth on the grid next Sunday. Indy 500 powerhouses Will Power, Sebastian Bourdais, Josef Newgarden, and Alexander Rossi behind him, so Herta will have his work cut out for him.

Qualifying for this year’s Indy 500 was the closest it had ever been in history, with only 2.620 mph (about 1.8 seconds over four laps) separating pole-sitting Simon Pagenaud from 33rd-place Kyle Kaiser.

Related: Honda vs the competition

With an average speed of 227.543, James Hinchcliffe was the only Honda driver among the last-row qualifiers despite crashing during the first round of qualifying on the previous day.

“Another great day for the #88 GESS Capstone Honda,” Herta said. “I think that was our maximum, like yesterday. We said we’d be happy with fifth place, because we didn’t think we had enough for the four guys in front of us.”

“Everyone is just so competitive and quick, but you can win from anywhere here. It didn’t matter if we started fifth or 25th, I was going to be happy either way. The guys have been working so well together and we’ve made it in the show. So, I’m really excited to see what happens next!”

Three drivers failed to qualify — all Chevrolet-powered — one of whom was, notably, two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso, who is only missing the Indy 500 to complete the Triple Crown of Motorsports. He fell just 0.019 mph short of making the field as McLaren Racing failed to bring a competitive car to the competition.

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