With two races left in his rookie campaign, Santa Clarita native Colton Herta earned a fourth-place finish at Portland International Raceway.
It’s been a roller coaster rookie season in the NTT IndyCar Series for the 19-year old from Valencia. In March, Herta became the youngest ever to win an IndyCar race at the IndyCar Classic in Austin, Texas. In June, he became the youngest ever winner of the NTT P1 Award for the fastest time in qualifying and yesterday, he nabbed his second NTT P1 Award at the Grand Prix of Portland in Portland, Oregon, besting veteran Will Power by less than two-tenths of a second.
“I am so happy,” Herta told the media following qualifying on Saturday. “We left it right until the end, so everyone was all tense, and I think that made it much sweeter. Before I knew we won the pole position, I went on the radio and heard everyone cheering, so to find out that way was really cool. This is awesome. We have really great race pace, so I think we can take the No. 88 Capstone Turbine Honda car to victory lane.”
Herta got off to a good start to Sunday’s race, holding off veteran Scott Dixon and leading the first 36 laps of the 105-lap event.
Around lap 35, Herta’s softer Firestone Red tires began to deteriorate, forcing him to battle the car and allowing four of his competitors to pass him in one lap. On lap 38, Herta had no choice but to pit and have his depleted Firestone Reds replaced with the harder and more durable Blacks.
Herta would exit the pits in 11th position, but a fast car and good pit strategy on his second stop allowed Herta to climb to fourth, where he would remain for the rest of the race.
“The Grand Prix of Portland was an up-and-down day for the No. 88 Capstone Turbine Honda team, Said Herta following the race. “I had a blast leading 37 laps of the race today, and our pace was really quick. The car was great and our strategy was there, but our pace on the red tires during the first stint of the race just wasn’t there. I really feel we could have won the race, but I’m overall happy with fourth as it’s our second-best finish of the year. Looking forward to racing at Laguna Seca in a couple weeks.”
Herta’s rookie season will conclude Sunday, Sept. 22 with the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California.