By Caleb Lunetta
Signal Senior Staff Writer
Valencia native Colton Herta earned his sixth victory in the IndyCar Series when he placed first at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday.
Herta, 21, who races for Andretti Autosport, took home first on what is considered his home track and it marked his second consecutive win, and third overall for this year.
“Yes, yes, yes! Win at home in Long Beach,” Herta tweeted out after his win on Sunday. “Thank you to my team for everything, and an amazing cap on this year!”
Herta’s father, Brian, who is a former IndyCar driver himself, said that outside of the Indianapolis 500, the Long Beach race is possibly the most important to his son and his family.
“It’s the race that made me want to become a racecar driver and become an IndyCar driver, and it was the first race he ever attended when he was 2 weeks old,” Herta’s father told The Signal on Monday. “He’s kind of grown up there, so for him to get the win in that race, probably outside of the Indy 500 … there’s no other race that meant more or means more to us.”
Sunday’s race marked the second time that Herta, who drives the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda, had participated in the Long Beach race. It had been 30 months since the event had been held at the Southern California street circuit, due to the COVID-19 pandemic canceling the 2020 event.
“I’m super excited to be back at Long Beach,” Herta said in a statement before the race. “This race means so much to me with it being the first IndyCar race that I ever went to and also my home race.”
Herta trailed the leaders until the 32nd lap, slicing his way from 14th to behind the two leaders Josef Newgarden and Scott Dixon before finally overtaking them when the two had to pit.
“It’s one of those things that’s great about IndyCar is the level of competition is so high, but the racing is so high, but the racing is really exciting,” said Herta. “You can win from anywhere, and the depth is so high that you can’t count anybody out when the race starts.”
Although Newgarden came close to closing the distance between the two in the final laps of the 85-lap race, Herta was able to stave off his fellow driver and cross the finish line in first.
The finish, while celebrated, may not have come as a surprise to those who have watched the young driver’s career. In 2019, became the youngest winning IndyCar driver in history after his victory at Circuit of The Americas in 2019 with Harding Steinbrenner Racing. He was 18 years, 359 days old at the time.