Colton Herta sets record as youngest Indy Lights winner at St. Pete

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – “HertaMania 2.0” is a winner in his first weekend in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires.

Colton Herta is just 16 years old and turns 17 on March 30, but the son of two-time Indianapolis 500-winning car owner and a star driver in his own right, Bryan Herta, has delivered his first career victory in only his second start in the series, a day after coming second on Saturday to fellow series rookie and Pro Mazda champion Aaron Telitz. Interestingly, Bryan Herta won the 1993 Indy Lights title some seven years before Colton was even born.

The younger Herta started from pole in today’s race at St. Petersburg (airs March 18 on NBCSN) and completed a flag-to-flag victory in the 45-lap, one-hour race, driving the No. 98 Deltro Energy-backed Dallara IL-15 Mazda for Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing, near the Steinbrenner family’s spring home of Tampa.

Herta had to defend against last season’s Indy Lights runner-up Santiago Urrutia in his No. 5 Belardi Auto Racing car, which is sporting Arrow signage on the sidepods this weekend, on the restarts. Urrutia got close a couple times but was never able to make a proper move, Herta largely defending to the inside to keep the lead.

The win today followed a passing exhibition on Saturday where Herta made several successful moves to the inside at Turn 1 to advance from fifth on the grid up to second. This caps off a week where Herta threw the first pitch at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Tuesday for the New York Yankees spring training game and is now two-for-two on podium finishes.

Herta raced in Europe the last two seasons and won a handful of races with the Carlin team, but was excited to return home to racing in North America this year.

Urrutia was second for his first podium of the weekend, rebounding after damage sustained on the first lap yesterday knocked him back to 13th, while Pato O’Ward delivered a sterling drive to third for Team Pelfrey. Kyle Kaiser (Juncos Racing) and Saturday winner Telitz completed the top five.