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IndyCar Grand Prix of Indianapolis

Indy GP winner Herta amazed by a car that’s “just not possible”

Grand Prix of Indianapolis winner Colton Herta said he was stunned by the versatility of his Andretti Autosport IndyCar in both wet and dry conditions.

Race winner Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda

Despite starting from 14th, Herta ended up leading 50 of the 75 laps, on his way to victory in a chaotic weather affected race held on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The race started in wet conditions but Herta quickly switched to the red walled slicks on lap 3 before rain showers doused the circuit again for the final stint.   

After beating Meyer Shank Racing's Simon Pagenaud and Team Penske's Will Power to claim a first win of the season, Herta was impressed by how his car handled the varying weather conditions.  

“The most interesting thing is you never have a car that works in the wet and the dry – it's just not possible, but it happened today," said Herta.

“It was very interesting. Felt comfortable in all conditions.”

“The call for slicks to wets that made the difference. I think we gained 15 [actually 13] spots on that transition. We pitted on Lap 3. Everybody pitted on lap 4 or 5. We gained [13] spots in that transition to go from 14th to first.

“It was really cool. The team did a tremendous job. They gave me such an incredible car.”

Herta was in a long discussion with his strategist and father Bryan Herta before the final stint regarding whether to go for more reds or switch to wets as rain had returned and heavier showers were expected imminently.

In the end they went for more reds, but all their principal rivals did the same, so when the rain became heavier, almost all ducked back into the pits.

He explained: "I said, ‘With the track conditions right now it's probably wets, but if you think it's going to get dryer or wetter, that will change my decision.’ We thought it was going to dry out a little bit, so we went on slicks. Immediately when I got out there, I knew it was going to be tough, but I said, ‘If you guys think it's going to be dry, then we'll stay out here.’

“I think they saw something pop up on the radar that it was going to stay wet. We made the wrong choice, but luckily, everyone followed our direction and did the wrong thing also! So we didn't actually lose that much.”

Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda

Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda

Photo by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images

Herta admitted that part of his defence against Pagenaud in the wet conditions came from watching the TV screens at the side of the track, and blinding his pursuer with spray.

Maybe I shouldn't tell you guys this, but I saw Simon poking out [of the spray] on one of the restarts on the TVs,” he said.

“I was watching the TVs because I couldn't see anything out of the mirrors. Every time he would poke out, I would go down a little bit more [to the right] so he couldn't see anything going into Turn 1. I was giggling a little bit in my helmet looking. He would poke out a little bit more, so I would go a little bit more. Funny.”

Herta also survived a major save on a wet patch at Turn 8 while pursuing Pato O’Ward for the lead, which he was bale to recover, before going on to catch and pass the Arrow McLaren SP driver.

“I was on the rack stops,” he said, “and I was shoving so hard to get more wheel, but I couldn't. I need to see the video of what happened, but what I think happened is, it was drying, but maybe I went out a little bit wider on the entry of the corner than I had been and got that left rear on a damp patch or something. That's what it felt like because I turned in and it just lost everything immediately.

“I would have been upset if I spun there, but I would have been even more upset because I didn't know that it was for the lead of the race. I thought maybe I was, like, 10th or 11th. Maybe gained a few spots from that, so I had no clue where I was on track.

“I guess that was one of the only mistakes we made today.”

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