Rookie Herta Sets Pace on First Day of INDYCAR Spring Training
Second-generation star shines at Circuit of the Americas
Colton Herta wasted no time making his presence felt in the NTT IndyCar Series. The Harding Steinbrenner Racing rookie was quickest in both on-track sessions on opening day of INDYCAR Spring Training at Circuit of The Americas.
Herta, driving the No. 88 Harding Steinbrenner Racing Honda, logged the best lap of anyone among the 25 drivers participating Tuesday in the official series open test on the 3.41-mile permanent road course. The 18-year-old son of retired Indy car driver Bryan Herta, who won at Laguna Seca in 1998 and 1999, navigated the COTA course in 1 minute, 46.6258 seconds (115.132 mph).
“I’m super happy with how the day went,” said Colton Herta, the 2018 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires runner-up who made his NTT IndyCar Series debut in last September’s season finale at Sonoma Raceway and is slated to run the full season this year.
“We did some great things to the car and I’m very happy with how the boys got everything together in time for this test,” he added. “Everyone did a fantastic job and there were no issues with the car; it was perfect. We kept chipping away and kept finding time. By the end of the day, we were quickest by quite a margin. I can’t wait for tomorrow now.”
A second day of testing is set for Wednesday, with six more hours of on-track time. The NTT IndyCar Series will return to COTA from March 22-24 to conduct its first race on the spectacular road course, the INDYCAR Classic.
A total of 1,034 laps were turned by the drivers on Tuesday. Following Herta on the combined timesheet were Team Penske drivers Will Power and Helio Castroneves. Power, the reigning Indianapolis 500 winner, ran a lap of 1:47.1044 (114.617 mph) in the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet. Castroneves, who will try for a record-tying fourth Indy 500 title in May, was clocked at 1:47.6949 (113.989 mph) in the No. 3 Pennzoil Chevrolet.
“We were trying to get it into a good (setup) window where you can make small adjustments on the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet,” Power said. “We took some big swings at it today and (were) trying to understand when the tire comes in and how long it lasts, and what package we want to run. We wound up with a lot of big changes.
“I think the track is phenomenal,” the 2014 NTT IndyCar Series champion added. “It’s got every sort of corner you can dream of. I think all the drivers are going to love to keep coming here.”
Chip Ganassi Racing teammates came in next on the speed chart, with rookie Felix Rosenqvist fourth at 1:48.0451 (113.619 mph) in the No. 10 NTT DATA Honda. Scott Dixon, the reigning and five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion, was fifth in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda (1:48.0474, 113.617 mph).
Test sessions are scheduled for 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2-6 p.m. ET Wednesday. Live timing and scoring is available at RaceControl.IndyCar.com.
The 17-race NTT IndyCar Series season opens with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 10 and is highlighted by the 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on May 26. All races air live on NBC or NBCSN, as well as the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.
The NTT IndyCar Series season finale will be held at the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca September 20-22. Tickets for the event and preferred pricing when purchasing with IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship September 13-15 are available here or by calling 831-242-8200.