March 9, 2021

Herta Rolls From Pole To Victory At Mid-Ohio

5 min read
LEXINGTON, Ohio – Colton Herta may have been born in Valencia, Calif., but his roots...

LEXINGTON, Ohio – Colton Herta may have been born in Valencia, Calif., but his roots run deep in Ohio.

Herta’s father, Bryan, attended Ohio State University in the 1990s while he was beginning his racing career.

The 20-year-old Herta added his name to the list of winners at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Sunday, after starting on the pole and leading 57 laps to score his first victory of the season and the third of his career in the Honda Indy 200.

It was the first win of the season for Andretti Autosport, which swept all three positions on the podium. Herta defeated Alexander Rossi by 1.3826 seconds and Ryan Hunter-Reay rounded out the podium in third place.

“It’s so huge, so huge. Thank God we came here to Mid-Ohio,” said team owner Michael Andretti “We were a little worried that we weren’t going to be able to get here, but Kevin Savoree and those guys did a great job getting this race on, and it paid off for us, man. One-two-three.

“The way things have been going for us this year, this is huge for us, the whole team.”

Herta became the seventh different winner in the NTT IndyCar Series this season.

Colton Herta en route to victory at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Sunday. (IndyCar photo)

“I’m so happy. We’ve been knocking on the door almost every weekend. We’ve had the pace. But for some reason or another, one thing has gone wrong or this thing has gone wrong. We finally put everything together,” Herta said. “We got the pole this morning, had a stellar car. Everybody on the Capstone Turbine crew gave me an incredible car. Honda-Andretti 1-2-3, so happy to be powered by Honda, too.

“We just need to be finishing on the podium every weekend,” Herta added. “It seems like we’re only on the podium when we win. If we can fill all of those other slots with seconds or thirds, I’ll be a very happy man.”

The last time Herta started on the pole, he also won the race. That was in the 2019 season finale at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca last September.

Andretti Autosport entered the weekend with just one podium. Rossi finished the weekend with two.

“I’m just so happy for Andretti Autosport and Michael (Andretti). It’s been a terrible year for us, kind of globally,” Rossi noted. “So, to do this … hat’s off to Colton (Herta) and the 88 guys to get the win. But then just to sweep the podium, I’ve heard it’s the first time (for the team) since 2005. It’s very cool for us.

“The championship went away from us pretty early on, so we’re just focusing on race wins at this point and just trying to build a good foundation for next year, and I think we’re doing that right now. This is a step in the right direction.”

All three drivers on the podium were powered by Honda, including third-place Hunter-Reay. It was Hunter-Reay’s first podium since Mid-Ohio last year.

“The race was all right. The day was dictated by qualifying. It’s such a big deal here in this sport, this league,” said Hunter-Reay. “Alex (Rossi) and I both had a great start, came up there, and we fought the whole way. Held station there at the end. The guys did a great job in pit lane. It was nice to have a solid day. There were really no hiccups.

“The team needed it – Andretti Autosport, the 28 DHL boys needed a good day, as well. It was nice to have a straightforward day,” he added. “We’ll pick up from there and hopefully keep this momentum rolling.”

Two more Honda drivers rounded out the top five, including New Albany, Ohio’s Graham Rahal and Sweden’s Marcus Ericsson.

“We had a strong two days,” Rahal said. “I know we are going to be good at Indy road course and I know we will be in contention to get a win. Hopefully, we can do that.”

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine allowed 6,000 spectators to attend each of the two races of the Saturday-Sunday doubleheader.

“It was a great day to have some fans out there in the stands and it’s a great day at Mid-Ohio right now,” Rahal said.

The race had a wild start when Scott Dixon had a great jump at the green flag and drove up to third. Santino Ferrucci, starting on the outside of row one, dove off course.

When Ferrucci returned to the track, he collided with Dale Coyne Racing teammate Alex Palou. That triggered a multi-car crash in turns four and five. Felix Rosenqvist of Chip Ganassi Racing ended up in the tire barrier and his race was finished.

Dixon was in contention for a seventh career win at Mid-Ohio before he spun out on cold tires on lap 22. He was able to keep his engine running, but dropped all the way back to the rear of the field.

Dixon was able to fight his way back to pass Rinus VeeKay on the final lap to finish 10th for the second race in a row. He leads Josef Newgarden in the battle for the NTT IndyCar Series championship by 72 points with three races to go.

“I think we tried to have the tires a little bit better for longer in the run, so I think our cold pressures were really low,” explained Dixon. “We really struggled on the restarts, especially the initial start and that restart. Plus everybody behind me had reds on. So, I got aggressive, hit the overtake on the exit of (turn) one, and just way too much Honda power there and spun the tires and spun the car. It totally caught me off guard.

“Total rookie mistake. I’m so bummed for the team. It’s just such a stupid mistake I shouldn’t have made. Obviously, the car was fast. We were able to fight our way through the pack. It should have been an easy points day.”

A Team Penske trio finished sixth through eighth in Simon Pagenaud, Will Power and Newgarden, respectively, all in Chevrolets.

“It was a good recovery and we moved up a little bit in points, but I’m disappointed I didn’t do better in Sunday morning qualifying,” said Power, Saturday’s race winner who brought out a red flag in qualifications and did not get to turn a lap in qualifying.

Power started 17th but moved up to seventh by the end of the day.

The NTT IndyCar Series season continues Oct. 2-3 with the Harvest Grand Prix doubleheader on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

To view complete race results, advance to the next page.

The post Herta Rolls From Pole To Victory At Mid-Ohio appeared first on SPEED SPORT.

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