History Made At COTA With Herta Win

Colton Herta at COTA
(Photo by Chris Owens)

IndyCar’s inaugural race at the highly regarded Circuit of The Americas in Austin was won by the youngest driver in the field for his first career win in the series, in only his third NTT IndyCar race.

Colton Herta (Harding Steinbrenner Racing, Honda) delivered a solid day’s driving to capitalize on Will Power’s (Team Penkse, Chevrolet) misfortune to become the youngest winner of an IndyCar race, less than one week shy of his 19th birthday, 

Oh my God, this doesn’t feel real,” he said as he coasted around the track after taking the checkered flag.

Power, who started on his 56th career pole position, took command from the green and looked as if he was going to walk away with the win on the 3.41-mile, 20-turn permanent road course. His only constant challenger was Alexander Rossi (Andretti Autosports, Honda) who last experienced this track during his Formula One days. The two of them were readying for their final pit stop of the race when on Lap 45 it all changed with the only full-field yellow. 

Jockeying for 10th position James Hinchcliffe (Arrow Schmidt Peterson Racing, Honda) hit the rear of Felix Rosenqvist (Chip Ganassi Racing, Honda) sending Rosenqvist spinning into the inside barrier at Turn 19.

During this caution the leaders came into the pits. As Power was accelerating to leave his car stopped and wouldn’t engage due to mechanical issues. His team frantically tried everything, including pushing the car, but it was done. After leading 45 of the 60-lap race Power climbed out of the car. 

“It feels like an input shaft,” he said. “It felt like it snapped. Massively disappointed, man. If the yellow didn’t get us, the driveshaft did.”

Herta, who was in fourth at the time of Power, Rossi and Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing, Honda) pitting, inherited the lead. When the race restarted with 10 laps to go the rookie launched like a seasoned veteran leaving Josef Newgarden (Team Penske, Chevrolet) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosports, Honda) behind by as much as 4 seconds.

At the end Herta claimed victory by 2.78 seconds over Newgarden followed by Hunter-Reay. Graham Rahal (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Honda) and Sebastien Bourdais (Dale Coyne Racing, Honda) rounded out the top 5. 

Next on the NTT IndyCar Series schedule is the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on Sunday, April 7.