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IndyCar Texas

Andretti swaps IndyCar strategists for Herta and Kirkwood

Andretti Autosport has elected to swap strategists between the #26 car of Colton Herta and the #27 entry of Kyle Kirkwood for the remainder of the 2023 IndyCar season.

Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda

It means that Bryan Herta will now call the shots for 2021 Indy Lights champion Kyle Kirkwood, while Scott Harner will oversee Herta.

The decision comes as a surprise just one race into the season for two reasons.

Firstly, the Herta father-son combination had seemed far more harmonious – and more productive – than when Michael Andretti called strategy for son Marco Andretti, or when Bobby Rahal was on the radio for Graham Rahal.

Secondly, Kirkwood had worked with Harner in the youngster’s rookie season in IndyCar at AJ Foyt Racing in which he scored 183 points, finishing 24th.

Speaking to NBC, Colton Herta said it hadn’t been his decision to drop his father from his side of the garage, and didn’t sound impressed.

However, Harner played down the switch, telling Autosport: “It was just a team decision, just something they decided to do after St. Pete to mix things up a little bit.

“Colton is calm and cool, doesn’t seem to get excited about much and knows what he wants. Obviously, him and Nathan [O’Rourke], race engineer have been together for a while and have been pretty successful, so that part is pretty seamless.”

Kyle Kirkwood, Andretti Autosport Honda

Kyle Kirkwood, Andretti Autosport Honda

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

Colton and Bryan Herta won four races together over the 2021-2022 seasons, with Colton finishing fifth in the 2021 championship.

However, both Herta and Kirkwood suffered a difficult season-opener in St. Petersburg, both dropping several places on alternate compound tyres towards the end of the first stint, and emerging in unrepresentative positions.

Herta then collided with Will Power which took him out of the race, and Kirkwood endured a high-flying ride over two crashed cars, before eventually coming home 15th.

Herta has qualified 10th for the first oval race of the season at Texas Motor Speedway later today, leading team-mates Romain Grosjean and Devlin DeFrancesco in 11th and 12th, while Kirkwood will roll off 20th.

Arrow McLaren’s Felix Rosenqvist was the only driver to run a 220mph average in qualifying to claim a second consecutive Texas pole.

He headed Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon, with McLaren's Alexander Rossi third fastest.

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