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Graham Rahal on IndyCar front row at Mid-Ohio with pole sitter Colton Herta

Graham Rahal is back on the front row for an IndyCar race for the first time in four years.

The son of 1986 Indy 500 winner and team owner Bobby Rahal nearly landed the pole at Mid-Ohio on Saturday, getting edged in the final seconds by Colton Herta, the last car remaining in the final six-minute round of qualifying. Herta posted a lap of 1 minute, 6.3096 seconds while Rahal stopped the clock in 1:06.3528 to cap a dominant performance by the Honda teams.

Each of the six teams that made the final round of qualifying had Honda engines.

“It’s a great time to get the Fifth Third Bank car up front and running well,” said Rahal, whose struggles this season — including a failure to land his Rahal Letterman Lanigan car in the Indianapolis 500 — have left his future with the team in question.

“We’ve got a lot of laps tomorrow to keep it there,” Rahal said. “I’m so proud of everybody at RLL, the 15 car of course. Everybody has done an amazing job, keeping their heads down amidst a tough season.”

It was a banner day for the Rahal team, which also landed Christian Lundgaard in the final round. He will start fifth on Sunday.

Even faster than the Rahal cars were those from Andretti Autosport, which got a second consecutive pole from Herta after his quick lap at Road America and will have Kyle Kirkwood starting right behind him on the grid.

“He just drove super well and definitely put in a really good lap there,” Kirkwood said of his teammate, who is searching for his first win since the road course at Indianapolis last year. “You couldn’t ask for better starting positions, to be honest. A front row lockout is great, but one and three is great here, being on the inside for Turn 1.”

Herta won from the pole at Mid-Ohio when it hosted a doubleheader in 2020.

Alex Palou qualified fourth for Chip Ganassi Racing as the series points leader seeks his fourth win in the last five races.

Some big names failed to make it out of the first qualifying round, including Pato O’Ward, who had been near the top of the speed charts in practice but spun into the grass on his run. Josef Newgarden and Alexander Rossi also failed to advance.

Newgarden’s teammates with Team Penske, Will Power and Scott McLaughlin, were the fastest among those that failed to make the six-car final round. They had a chance to bump Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon but came up short.

“I had some of my best laps of the weekend. We just missed,” McLaughlin said. “It’s IndyCar. It’s so tight. We’ll work. We can win from eighth. Me and Will are the first couple of Chevys and we’ll go from there.”