Colton Herta Wins Soggy-Wild Indy GMR Grand Prix, Drivers Had Zero Visibility At Times

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(INDIANAPOLIS, IN) – Colton Herta (22) won Saturday’s GMR Grand Prix in Indianapolis for Andretti Autosport. Herta is the youngest person to ever win an IndyCar Series race.

Indy News founder, Derik Vance attended the race and said it was ‘very dark’.

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Herta and his Dad had a victorious day.

“That was the most fun race I ever won,” Brian Herta said to his son Colton seconds after he won the GMR Gran Prix in Indy on Saturday.

The race was a wild ride, which some are calling the craziest IndyCar race they have ever seen.

“Bring it in,” Herta Sr. said, after winning his first race as a strategist, getting congratulations from another racing family, Mario Andretti and his grandson Marco.

Race Results – Top 10

  1. Colton Herta
  2. Simon Pagenaud
  3. Will Power
  4. Marcus Ericsson
  5. Conor Daly
  6. Felix Rosenqvist
  7. Takuma Sato
  8. Callum Illot
  9. Christian Lundgaard
  10. Scott Dixon

Herta started out the race making news go viral with his incredible save as he was going sideways for a bit.

“It was a little tricky, and then the Heavens open when I was coming out of the tow, describing the visibility. The aeroscreen was fine. I was happy with it. I looked up at the screens to see who is chasing me, except for the corners where it can catch me up. It is a long straightway with nothing to do. I wasn’t scared.  You can’t drive when you are scared. I was focused on seeing and feeling everything with the changing conditions. It was 2 hours and very physical,” Herta said in his post-race interview.

“Does anyone have a towel?” post-race press conference started.

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Connor Daily, who came in 5th talked about how the track went from wet to dry so fast.

“The skies opened up and made for an interesting day,” Daily said. “I had some issues. I have never seen anything like that water that stayed on my screen; we will have to figure out the science to that with my team. It was challenging, and I had a spotter in turn-on and couldn’t see much. It was hard to race; even under yellow, I couldn’t see the cars in front of me, but I will always be fighting to the end. I want to beat these guys and girls we are racing against. This is the fun part of IndyCar. The team did a great job. The old big one is next and we are excited about the next race. We have the right horses underneath us, we are ready to roll out there,” he said.

 

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Simon Pagenaud went from 20 to come in second and was next to speak.
“Oh my god, that was nuts. We should have a button to spray rain on the track so that was amazing; we had an amazing succession of events. I am proud of my team. Today we were able to show all the hard work that was done in the background. We are going to keep pushing. I wanted to catch up to Will, but I couldn’t see -I was just surviving at that point. It is our job to do the best we can and it was an awesome race. I picked spots on the fence to tell me where to break. The first race with the aero screens. The track looked dry but was slow on the rain tires.

Will Power came in third, and added to the story about the visibility problems- saing “it was so hard to see and I can’t imagine being in the back. It was a pretty crazy day and to know when to stay on my toes. I am happy with the third- it was survival. Days like today it is about points. It was a day to be smart and finish. Going around 10 to 12 there was a spot for aquaplaning,” Powers said.

“They may need an intermediate tire for in-between conditions, Power said, and Pagenaud agreed.

Castroneves had trouble with his visor because a vent was opened in the car allowing water in.
‘I was worried I was going to hit someone, or someone was going to hit me,” he said, in a post race follow up.

Christian Lundgaard got into a wreck, saying he couldn’t see for 10 laps, he said leaving the medical center and feeling ok.

Colton Herta won one of the wildest races in recent NTT INDYCAR SERIES history, controlling the chaos of changing weather conditions, ever-evolving tire strategies and numerous incidents to take the checkered flag for the GMR Grand Prix on Saturday on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

Herta, from Valencia, California, earned his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES victory of the season and his seventh career win in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda after starting 14th. The win was the first of the season for a Honda-powered driver.

The race, originally scheduled for 85 laps but slowed by numerous incidents and the arrival of rain near the midway point, reached its two-hour time limit during a caution period.

“This is the hardest race I think I’ve ever done,” Herta said. “Wet to dry, dry back to wet. Thank you so much for the Hoosiers for sticking around. I know you’re used to this weather, so thank you very much. Love you guys.”

Simon Pagenaud climbed from the 20th starting position to finish a season-best second in the No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda. NTT P1 Award winner Will Power placed third in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, tying his season best and climbing into the series points lead.

Marcus Ericsson drove from 18th at the start to end up fourth in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, with Indianapolis native Conor Daly finishing a season-best fifth in the No. 20 BitNile Chevrolet.

The box score indicated there were 10 lead changes among six drivers and eight caution periods for 31 laps, but that doesn’t begin to describe what unfolded on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. This was a test of speed, strategy and survival that will live in the memory for a long time.

Rain sprinkles caused the race start to be declared wet, with all drivers on Firestone grooved tires. But it took Herta and Takuma Sato only two laps to realize there was enough traction to switch to the slick, grippy Firestone alternate “red” tires. The rest of the field quickly followed suit, with all 27 drivers changing to alternate slicks by Lap 5.

For the next 30 laps, this appeared to be a highly competitive but conventional NTT INDYCAR SERIES road course race, with three incidents triggering caution periods and mixing up the running order. But the strategic mind games began when Dalton Kellett spun off course in Turn 6 on Lap 36 in the No. 4 K-LINE/AJ FOYT RACING Chevrolet.

Leaden, threatening clouds approached IMS from the west, with the airwaves between pit boxes and drivers crackling with strategic chatter.

Rookie Devlin DeFrancesco, Alexander Rossi and reigning series champion Alex Palou decided to pit for Firestone rain tires during that caution as light rain began to fall to varying degrees in different locations of the massive facility, with a handful of others following suit to switch to rain tires during another caution that started on Lap 42.

This dice roll came up snake eyes because the rain began to let up on Lap 45, when Herta passed Ericsson for the lead in Turn 4.

By Lap 52, the rain began to fall again at varying levels around the track, creating more head games for teams and drivers. During a caution period on Lap 60 with intermittent rain falling, all the contending cars came to the pits for Firestone alternate slick tires.

Two laps later, those plans became a soggy mess when hard rain began to fall. All the contenders tiptoed back to the pits for Firestone rain tires except for Pato O’Ward, Scott McLaughlin and Romain Grosjean, who stayed out on alternate slicks.

The race restarted at the end of Lap 66, and Herta – on rain tires – easily devoured the slick-shod O’Ward to take the lead for good with an inside pass into Turn 1 after the field took the green.

Later that lap, the daring strategy of staying on slicks unraveled for McLaughlin. Struggling for grip, he spun in his No. 3 Snap-on Tools Chevrolet. O’Ward also spun out of second place on Lap 69 in his No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP.

Herta gradually pulled away from Pagenaud over the closing laps, as teams kept their eyes on the race clock and the skies. Herta led Pagenaud by 3.8256 seconds on Lap 72, and the race effectively ended when Juan Pablo Montoya went off course after making contact with the wall in his No. 6 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.

“It was treacherous at the end,” Pagenaud said. “You’ve got to say congrats to Colton because it was really tough to finish the race. We made the right calls on the tires. It was tricky. It was really tricky to decide.”

 

 

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