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Qualifying Report: Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey

MONTEREY, Calif.—Despite the beauty of the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and its surrounding hills, the frustration of this season was summed up in the first round of qualifying for the AJ Foyt Racing team today.

While Tony Kanaan is still searching for the sweet spot on his No. 14 car, Matheus Leist was pretty happy with the handling of his No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet. At times throughout practice sessions during the weekend, including this morning’s practice, Leist broke into the top-five on the speed charts which gave him confidence going into qualifying this afternoon.

“It looked like it was going to be our best qualifying of the year today,” Leist said. “We had a pretty good car, we did the right preparation. However, on my fastest lap on the red tires, we had an issue on the last corner. We lost a second so that was the end of our day. That one second would have easily put us in the top 12. It’s a shame because it is the last qualifying of the year and the team wanted to be there, we had to be there. We’ll just focus on tomorrow and hope to have a good race.”

Leist will start 23rd, inside row 12, after posting a lap time of 1 minute, 11.51 seconds (112.6 mph) around the 11-turn, 2.258-mile road course.

Kanaan was not quite as happy with his car despite returning to one of his favorite circuits which he last ran in 2002. To make matters worse, Simon Pagenaud’s off track excursion ahead of Kanaan forced him to lift thus hindering his ability to improve his lap time. He will start 21st, on the inside of row 11, after clocking a lap of 1 minute, 11.24 seconds (113.085 mph).

“We’ve been fighting a lack of grip all weekend and we haven’t been able to find it so it’s obviously a bit frustrating but we’ve got to keep working on it. The car is just not working around the track so hopefully we’ll improve for tomorrow,” Kanaan said.

Colton Herta won his third pole of the season with a lap time of 1 minute, 10.14 seconds (114.867mph). Rounding out the Firestone Fast Six were: Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi, Josef Newgarden, James Hinchcliffe and Simon Pagenaud.

The Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey will be broadcast live on NBC tomorrow starting at 2:30 p.m. ET.

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