Bryan Herta: Hard to believe Colton finished IndyCar season only fifth

Colton Herta’s father Bryan, his Andretti Autosport strategist, says that he believes the “potential” was there to fight with new IndyCar champion Alex Palou for the 2021 title.

Bryan Herta: Hard to believe Colton finished IndyCar season only fifth

Herta scored three wins in 2021, the only driver to match Palou in terms of victories, but added only two more top-three finishes, whereas the Chip Ganassi Racing driver accrued five more podiums.

That said, Herta was the only Andretti driver to score wins, and in fact between them his three full-time teammates only added two more podium finishes, finishing 10th (Alexander Rossi), 17th (Ryan Hunter-Reay) and 20th (James Hinchcliffe) in the final standings.

Although Colton Herta slipped from third in 2020 to fifth in ’21, Bryan believes that overall it was a strong year for the #26 Gainbridge-backed car.

“I just continue to be not surprised, but impressed by the way he’s continued to develop and fill in gaps to become a complete driver and racer,” said the senior Herta, who saw his son surpass his tally of four Indy car wins.

“He’s really had a phenomenal year; it’s almost hard to believe that he was only fifth in the championship.

“We feel like the potential has been there to be fighting with Palou, but for a few things. Some were within our control, some outside of our control.

"I never like to say that, because I truly believe you make your own luck in racing, but in terms of what he’s done on track, you know, Nashville was the only real mistake he’s made in a race this year that had any real consequence.

“It’s been fun for me to be a part of that this year. It’s very special both as a parent and a racer to be at the racetrack with your son every weekend, feeling like we’re competing to win.”

Among Herta’s many strong performances this year, the new Nashville street course was where he had the biggest margin over his rivals.

Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda

Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda

Photo by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images

He was able to go through the first round of qualifying using Firestone’s primary tires, so that he had a fresh set of softer ‘reds’ for the Fast Six shootout, and took pole by 0.55s.

However, the race saw several incidents causing yellow flags, a couple of which went against Herta’s pitstop strategy, so that he got shuffled back in the order.

Although he put on a scintillating performance to scythe past several strong runners, when he reached second place he found leader Marcus Ericsson a harder nut to crack. While trying to launch an attack, Herta slid into a wall.

Afterward, the 21-year-old admitted that he had gotten “tunnel vision” trying to take the win that his weekend-long pace advantage over the opposition should have earned. His father suggests that honesty is one of his defining characteristics.

“The thing I love about watching him is that he has a great capacity to learn from mistakes,” said Bryan. I’ve seen that since he was six years old and starting out in karting.

“He’s good at evaluating and accepting his role in things; he’s not really a big excuse-maker. He’s willing to learn and then do things differently. In my career I’ve had some great champion teammates to observe in the past, and I think it’s a common trait, so I’m proud he exhibits that.” 

Asked if he believed his son in 2022 could have a season like Palou’s in ’21, Herta replied: “I definitely think Colton is capable of that. I think he was this year, but like I said, it didn’t work out that way.

“A guy like Palou has really elevated the level of the IndyCar Series, he’s shown himself to be an incredible talent.

"I think he’s got those few extra years of experience [outside of IndyCar] on Colton. But I see Colton – and Laguna Seca was a great example – as being able to perform at that extremely high level, and it’s now about doing it on a more regular basis.”

shares
comments

Related video

Detroit GP aims to move IndyCar and IMSA race downtown for 2023
Previous article

Detroit GP aims to move IndyCar and IMSA race downtown for 2023

Next article

Grosjean, Johnson to take Indy 500 rookie test on Wednesday

Grosjean, Johnson to take Indy 500 rookie test on Wednesday
Load comments
Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021 Plus

Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021

In an enthralling 2021 IndyCar campaign, the series bounced back from its COVID-19 truncated year prior and Alex Palou defeated both the established order and his fellow young guns to clinch a maiden title. It capped a remarkable season with plenty of standout performers

IndyCar
Nov 21, 2021
How F1's other IndyCar exile finally unlocked his potential Plus

How F1's other IndyCar exile finally unlocked his potential

Romain Grosjean's swashbuckling rookie year in IndyCar captured the imagination of many in 2021. But another ex-Formula 1 driver whose potential was masked by five years of toil in, at best, middling machinery also enjoyed a breakout year in 2021 - winning twice and finishing sixth in points. Here's how Marcus Ericsson finally delivered on his promise

IndyCar
Nov 16, 2021
How Ganassi's relentless new champion outfoxed IndyCar's best Plus

How Ganassi's relentless new champion outfoxed IndyCar's best

IndyCar sophomore Alex Palou stunned by overcoming team-mate Scott Dixon and the rest of a white-hot field in 2021. He was consistently fast and crucially showed a level head, rebounding well from setbacks to put himself in a near unassailable position entering the final round

IndyCar
Nov 4, 2021
Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up? Plus

Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up?

Despite appearing to have an IndyCar job for life with Meyer Shank Racing, Jack Harvey’s departure and move to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing sparked plenty of debate. However, Harvey's and RLL's combined strengths could prove to be a winning combination - if they get the balance right

IndyCar
Oct 17, 2021
Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing IndyCar win Plus

Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing IndyCar win

Saturday 16 October marks the 10th anniversary of Dan Wheldon’s death. David Malsher-Lopez pays tribute, then asks Wheldon’s race engineer from 2011, Todd Malloy, to recall that magical second victory at the Indianapolis 500

IndyCar
Oct 16, 2021
Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting Plus

Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting

Kyle Kirkwood, the record-setting junior formula driver, sealed the Indy Lights championship last weekend. But despite an absurdly strong junior career and scholarship money, his next move is far from clear

IndyCar
Oct 6, 2021
Why IndyCar title glory is just the start for Ganassi's new star Plus

Why IndyCar title glory is just the start for Ganassi's new star

Newly-crowned IndyCar champion Alex Palou has been lauded as a complete driver and veteran-like in only his second season. The 24-year-old is still in the early days of his career, but the parallels are there for all to see with his six-time champion Chip Ganassi Racing team-mate who has been CGR's team leader since 2014

IndyCar
Sep 28, 2021
Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar Plus

Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar

One of motorsport’s worst-kept secrets is now out in the open, and Romain Grosjean has been confirmed as an Andretti Autosport IndyCar driver in 2022. It marks a remarkable turnaround after the abrupt end to his Formula 1 career, and is a firm indication of his commitment to challenge for the IndyCar Series title  

IndyCar
Sep 24, 2021