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Herta finds latest IndyCar calamity at Mid-Ohio “difficult to process”

Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta admits he found Sunday’s disappointing IndyCar result at Mid-Ohio “difficult to process” as a first podium finish of 2023 again eluded the polesitter.

Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda

Photo by: Gavin Baker / Motorsport Images

Herta has qualified on pole for the most recent races at Road America and Mid-Ohio, but having slumped from first to fifth in the former after a strategy error, he was the architect of his own downfall on Sunday when he was caught speeding in the pits.

Herta had already lost the lead to series dominator Alex Palou in the first round of pitstops and was battling to stay ahead of Scott Dixon in the final pit cycle when he slid sideways entering pitlane and didn’t get his limiter control button to trigger properly.

The resultant drive-through penalty dropped him back to 11th.

“Disappointing day,” he admitted afterwards. “[We] just seemed to move backwards during the race and unfortunately we had a pit lane incident.

“I didn’t quite get the pit lane speed limit which gave us a drive-through penalty that threw us back.

“It is difficult to process the results of this race after starting P1. Hopefully, we can turn it around in Toronto.”

After starting the season with his father Bryan calling his strategy, Andretti Autosport replaced him with Scott Harner – switching Herta Sr. to team-mate Kyle Kirkwood, who promptly then won at Long Beach.

Harner was moved to Devlin DeFrancesco’s car after the Road America mishap, where Herta had to save more fuel during the final stint after pitting earlier than rivals. Andretti’s chief operating officer Rob Edwards is now calling Herta’s strategy, having previously done so for Alexander Rossi prior to his defection to Arrow McLaren.

Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda, pit stop

Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda, pit stop

Photo by: Richard Dole / Motorsport Images

Ahead of Sunday’s race, Herta voiced his dissatisfaction of how things have played out this season from that standpoint.

“It's not how I would like to do it,” he said. “You would want an off-season to prepare with one person, and unfortunately I never got that.

“It's nice that they're open and willing to making changes, and they take everybody's feedback, and they look it over. They truly want everybody on the team to do their best, so they want to win, and they know it's not an ideal situation.

“We obviously have the speed, and we just need to put together some race weekends as a whole. Hopefully we can do that. Obviously it's been a struggle to do that pretty much all year.

“It's pretty frustrating to be sitting here and having a best result of fourth and not really getting an opportunity at a podium.

“I'm happy that Rob is here. Like he's been really good with me on the radio. But it's not how he is on the radio. It's all about strategy and what we can do with that. That's the most important bit.”

When asked if the Edwards move was a direct result of the Road America misstep, he replied: “I think it had a little bit [to do with it] but for that stuff, they're obviously pretty critical on strategists after every race when they're going over everything and they have their meetings and I'm sure they get drilled pretty good in those meetings if they make a wrong decision.

“But it's tough. It's just like the drivers, you've got to do it, and you've got to do it every time, and if you can't, it sucks, but that's the way it is.

“You can look back and say we could have done better here and there. But the best thing is just to learn from them. I feel like I've been saying that a lot this year, just from my end, from everybody's end.”

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