Herta: “I’ve been bit by the bug; one isn’t enough”

Colton Herta – IndyCar’s newest winner and the youngest in Indy car history –  has pledged to go for a second triumph at Barber Motorsports Park after his Circuit of the Americas success.

Herta: “I’ve been bit by the bug; one isn’t enough”

After qualifying fourth and running in a podium position throughout the inaugural NTT IndyCar Series race at COTA, the Harding Steinbrenner Racing-Honda driver led the final 15 laps of the IndyCar Classic to clinch victory in only his third ever race at this level.

The 18-year-old found himself in the lead when race leader Will Power of Team Penske-Chevrolet and Alexander Rossi of Andretti Autosport-Honda got hosed by a full-course caution, which closed the pitlane just as they were due to make their final stops, having run longer than their nearest rivals.

However, at the restart, Herta had to hold off another Penske and Andretti car, driven by Josef Newgarden and Ryan Hunter-Reay respectively, in order to clinch victory.

The teenaged son of former Indy car winner Bryan Herta admitted that for the first two thirds of the race, he wasn’t confident of pulling off a win.

“I didn't think it was going to happen,” he said. “Seems like Will and Rossi had a bit of a pace advantage on us. I think the max we were going to get was third without a caution. Caution came out.

“[But] we did think we were third best. Really good job by everybody. The boys did a really good job on the stops the whole day.”

Regarding the final restart, again Herta wasn’t sure he could beat Newgarden and Hunter-Reay.

“On the restart we were quick, we kind of sprinted off,” he said. “I know we got the quickest lap on that first lap, which was pretty crazy to have the tires up to temp and everything ready for that.

“[But I wasn’t] super-confident at all, to be honest. I was kind of looking at it that they might get by me [but] I thought I could still manage podium. I’d never done a restart from cold tires that were reds. In St Pete, I only made my restarts on blacks.

“It kind of felt a little unnatural. The tires came up to temp really quickly. It wasn't really that big of a problem. I got a really big jump out. Newgarden got a little bit of wheelspin.

"It was off to the races for me, pulled out the gap. Kind of got it to where I wanted and tried to hold it there and save my 'push to pass' in case a caution came out at the end.”

In terms of making history, he remarked: “It was cool to win here, first race at Circuit of the Americas and youngest to win. I think it will be something I’ll come back to forever.…

“Just to be up with the names of people that have won – I'm going to live and die an IndyCar winner, which is spectacular in itself. It's a great record at a young age. To be standing up here kind of feels surreal…

“I've been bit by the bug now. One race isn't enough. Going to go for another one at Barber. I just want to get there and drive again.”

Herta driving style suits car and track

Herta said that his pace with the HSR car at both St. Petersburg – where he was set to qualify in the top six until penalized for holding up another driver – and at Circuit of The Americas wasn’t something he could fully explain following his graduation from Indy Lights.

“I haven't really changed my driving style at all,” he said. “The Indy Lights car is quite a bit different with the stiffer tires that Cooper has. Their tires are meant to last 45-minute to an hour-long race.

"We last for 20 to 30 minute [stints], we obviously have softer tires than they do and they produce a lot more grip. It's obviously a bit different driving style.

“I don't know. Maybe my driving style suits Indy car more than it did the Lights car. Maybe I just woke up one day and hit myself on the head and learned how to drive.”

He went on: “This is a wicked place. I think it kind of helps that it's low grip. I think I thrive a little bit more in low-grip situations. That's kind of what you need to get through the Esses fast. A lot of the guys that were struggling had a lot of understeer in the Esses.

“You got to be able to drive a loose car. Obviously the grip level of the track didn't change much for some reason. I think the asphalt doesn’t take rubber. Kind of just put it down on the track and shuffled it off. The lap times actually didn't really change that much throughout the weekend.

“Yeah, I guess being able to drive a loose car is key, being able to hold onto it.”

shares
comments
COTA IndyCar: Herta becomes series' youngest ever winner

Previous article

COTA IndyCar: Herta becomes series' youngest ever winner

Next article

Newgarden draws career parallels with "phenomenal" Herta

Newgarden draws career parallels with "phenomenal" Herta
Load comments

About this article

Series IndyCar
Event Austin
Drivers Bryan Herta
Teams Harding Racing
Author David Malsher-Lopez
Why IndyCar is satisfying Grosjean’s appetite for his second life Prime

Why IndyCar is satisfying Grosjean’s appetite for his second life

After spending the majority of his 179-race Formula 1 career in middling to tail-end machinery, Romain Grosjean finds himself once again with an underdog team in IndyCar. While not without its challenges, he's relishing the more level playing field that means his Dale Coyne Racing crew can expect to claim a few scalps...

Why IndyCar's new aero parts should improve racing at Indy Prime

Why IndyCar's new aero parts should improve racing at Indy

Tino Belli, IndyCar’s director of aerodynamic development, believes the changes to the underside of the cars will allow them to run closer at Indy and make passes. The moment of truth comes on its biggest stage, writes David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
May 10, 2021
Colton Herta – America's next racing hero Prime

Colton Herta – America's next racing hero

Last Sunday, Colton Herta demolished his IndyCar opposition in the second round of the season. David Malsher-Lopez explains why Andretti Autosport’s youngest ace bears all the hallmarks of becoming the country’s next homegrown motorsport hero.

IndyCar
Apr 29, 2021
How good is Palou and is he Dixon’s strongest title rival? Prime

How good is Palou and is he Dixon’s strongest title rival?

Last Sunday, Alex Palou delivered his first IndyCar victory on his Chip Ganassi Racing debut. Is the young Spaniard going to become his legendary teammate Scott Dixon’s biggest title threat? David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Apr 21, 2021
Preview: Why IndyCar in 2021 is too close to call Prime

Preview: Why IndyCar in 2021 is too close to call

The fight for supremacy in the NTT IndyCar Series will be as intense as ever. David Malsher-Lopez is your guide to the main contenders and six intriguing sub-plots.

IndyCar
Apr 15, 2021
Is Arrow McLaren SP ready for IndyCar’s title fight? Prime

Is Arrow McLaren SP ready for IndyCar’s title fight?

With Patricio O'Ward and Felix Rosenqvist leading its line-up, 2021 could be the year Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet joins the IndyCar elite, writes David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Feb 21, 2021
Dale Coyne picks the Top 10 drivers in his giant-slaying team Prime

Dale Coyne picks the Top 10 drivers in his giant-slaying team

Over 37 seasons, Dale Coyne has run no fewer than 80 Indy car drivers – including himself! Ahead of his first season running Romain Grosjean, we asked Coyne to pick the best 10 drivers ever to compete for him. By David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Feb 10, 2021
Why enigmatic Marco Andretti will be missed Prime

Why enigmatic Marco Andretti will be missed

Last Friday, Marco Andretti announced he is withdrawing from fulltime IndyCar racing. David Malsher-Lopez explains how this third-gen racer was a puzzle in the car, but a straight shooter off-track.

IndyCar
Jan 19, 2021