Colton Herta put together the only two-lap qualifying effort quicker than 140mph to grab a single bonus point and the upper hand in his attempt to stave off elimination from the chase for the $1 million Indy Lights Advancement scholarship.

The 75-lap race will be the third time that Herta will start on pole in 2018 and the tenth of his Indy Lights career, moving him into a tie with Townsend Bell for fourth on the career list.

Herta told TSO that he was relatively conservative on his qualifying run because he was concerned by what happened to Patricio O’Ward on his first of two qualifying laps.

O’Ward, who led the practice just before qualifying had a moment at the exit of Turn 2 on his first lap which resulted in a lap at 157.311 mph was the slowest of the fourteen qualifying laps. O’Ward almost made up for his mistake by turning the fastest of the fourteen qualifying laps at 159.988mph.

The two extreme laps equated to a two-lap average of 158.638mph. The points leader will start on the inside of the second row, directly behind Herta.

The qualifying session began immediately after the Pro Mazda session when the K-Line Insulators sponsored No. 28 of Dalton Kellett took to the 1.25-mile oval for the Canadian’s two-lap qualifying run. Kellet’s two-lap average of 158.277 mph means he will start on the inside of row three.

For the third straight Indy Lights oval race, Ryan Norman will start inside of the first two rows. His second place starting spot matches the best of his Indy Lights career for the Andretti Autosport sophomore.

Only a stout qualifying effort by Aaron Telitz prevented an Andretti Autosport lockout of the two front rows by slotting between O’Ward and Kellet.

The seven cars two-lap qualifying averages were separated by a scant 1mph.

The single point for winning the pole moves Herta to within 31 points of O’Ward.

Mazda St. Louis Indy Lights Oval Challenge Presented by Cooper Tires qualifying results

1 98 Colton Herta Andretti Steinbrenner Racing 159.075 158.664 159.489
2 48 Ryan Norman Andretti Autosport 158.904 158.654 159.155
3 27 Patricio O’Ward Andretti Autosport 158.638 157.311 159.988
4 9 Aaron Telitz Belardi Auto Racing 158.412 158.287 158.538
5 28 Dalton Kellett Dalton Kellett 158.277 158.550 158.006
6 23 Victor Franzoni Juncos Racing 158.184 158.126 158.242
7 5 Santi Urrutia Belardi Auto Racing 158.102 157.990 158.215

The 75-lap race rolls off at 4:45 pm.