Photo Courtesy Chris Owens/INDYCAR

Herta gets rookie campaign back on track

In a roller coaster of a rookie campaign in which Colton Herta became the youngest driver to ever win an INDYCAR race, followed by a string of three consecutive DNFs, the teenager from Valencia got back on track at the unique Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix doubleheader with a pair of 12th place finishes.

Just a week ago, Herta entered the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 starting fifth and with a real chance to make more INDYCAR history. Just moments into the race, however, Herta knew something was very wrong.

“I couldn’t get into sixth the whole time, so I stuck it in fifth gear. Just kind of sitting there. I knew it was going to be a long day after seeing that,” Herta told the media following the race.

“I was hoping maybe we could just run around in fifth gear the whole time. But we lost the gear pressure in it, and it didn’t want to change gears. Once I went down to fourth and back up to fifth a few times, it completely depleted it and there’s nothing left. So the engine is dying. Couldn’t get it to neutral. That’s why we had to put it on the flat tow and go back. The gear issue was caused from a fuel leak that burned the wires for the gearbox. The gearbox is controlled electronically, and I wasn’t getting the signal to upshift or downshift. It sent something into emergency mode to where the engine just completely shut off, and that was it.”

Herta didn’t have to wait long to get back out and race. Just six days later, The NTT INDYCAR Series headed north to Detroit, Michigan for a Saturday-Sunday double header at the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix.

The teenager once again put up fast times in the first practices and qualifying, starting Race 1 in P5.  

While the 12th place finish in the rain-shortened first race on Saturday put the green and white Harding-Steinbrenner No. 88 Honda back on the right track, the hungry Herta wasn’t satisfied.  “That race didn’t represent the work we put in or the result that the team deserved,” he tweeted. “P12 in the end, good thing is we get to do it all again tomorrow.”

Herta put down fast times yet again in qualifying Sunday, earning a P4 starting spot.

Race 2 was messy, with seven drivers wrecking out of the race and several more finishing the race with damage. Herta managed to avoid everything and again finished in the 12th position.

“We had really good pace and the car was strong today, but unfortunately, we kept moving back during the race” Herta told the media following Sunday’s Race 2. “The No. 88 GESS Capstone Honda guys worked really hard and we didn’t get to show it again, but I’m excited to get back to racing next weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.”

Herta will look to improve on the pair of 12th place finishes as the NTT INDYCAR Series travels south to Fort Worth, Texas on Saturday for the DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway.

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