Colton Herta wins inaugural IndyCar Classic at COTA, becomes youngest winner in series history

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It was a weekend of firsts in Austin, Texas for the NTT IndyCar Series.

For the Circuit of the Americas, Sunday’s IndyCar Classic was the first visit by the series to the 3.41-mile, 20-turn road course.

For Harding Steinbrenner Racing, Sunday’s victory was the first in team history, and for their rookie driver, 18-year-old-Colton Herta, Sunday’s win is the first in his relatively short IndyCar career.

After qualifying an impressive fourth in only his third series start, Herta ran up front all afternoon, and through the luck of a late caution and a mechanical failure for leader Will Power, the young driver found himself leading the pack to the green flag in the race’s only restart with 11 laps to go.

Herta would not relinquish his lead, and took the checkered flag to become the youngest winner in IndyCar Series history at 18 years, 11 months, and 25 days. The previous record was set by Graham Rahal in the 2008 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, when Rahal was 19 years, three months and 2 days old.

“We were not expecting that,” Herta, who turns 19 on Saturday, told NBC Sports. “I think we were going to get a podium. We had the pace for that, but holy crap, man. I am worn out!”

Running as high as second to Power in the early moments of the race, Herta made his final pit stop on lap 43 under green. At that point, it had still appeared that Power was on his way to his first win of the season, as the Team Penske driver had led every lap up until then.

However, when James Hinchcliffe and Felix Rosenqvist made contact on lap 44, Rosenqvist’s car hit the barrier and brought out the only caution of the race. Power, as well as Alexander Rossi, Scott Dixon and others went into the pits under yellow to make their final stops, giving Herta the lead. Power’s drive shaft would also break when he attempted to leave his pit box, ending the Aussie’s chances of winning the race and collecting a $100,000 bonus offered by the track to any driver who could win from the pole.

“I just want to have a good run, man,” Power told NBC Sports. “I just want to have a normal run in a season without this sort of crap.”

Josef Newgarden, who won the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, finished second, with Ryan Hunter-Reay, Graham Rahal and Sébastien Bourdais rounding out the top five.

Positions six through 10 were filled by Marco Andretti, Takuma Sato, Patricio O’Ward (in his first start for Carlin), Alexander Rossi, and Jack Harvey.

Zach Veach finished 22nd after spinning off the track and into a gravel pit on Lap 1. Rosenqvist was credited with 23rd and Power was last after his mechanical issues caused him to be the only DNF of the race.

The next race on the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series calendar is the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, with will take place on April 7 at Barber Motorsports Park. Coverage begins at 4:00 PM ET on NBCSN.

Official Results

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Keating stripped of Le Mans GTE-Am win; No. 68 Ganassi entry also disqualified

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FIA stewards announced Monday that two Ford GT entries have been disqualified from this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, including the GTE-Am class-winning No. 85 entry from privateer Keating Motorsports.

Also DQ’d was the factory No. 68 Chip Ganassi Racing entry of Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais, which initially finished fourth in the GTE-Pro class.

Both entries were found in violation of fuel capacity regulations, with the No. 85 entry also failing to meet the minimum refueling time during pit stops.

The refueling system on the No. 85 entry, driven by Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Felipe Fraga, measured a time of 44.4 seconds during a stop, just shy of the minimum required time of 45 seconds.

As a result, the team was initially issued a 55.2-second post-race penalty by officials, which elevated the No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR of Joerg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey, and Egidio Perfetti to the class win.

The time penalty was calculated by the difference in the refueling time (0.6 seconds) multiplied by the amount of pit stops made by the team (23), then multiplied by four.

The No. 85 entry was set to finish second in class, but then received an outright DQ after its fuel capacity was also revealed to be 0.1 liters above the maximum permitted capacity of 96 liters.

As for Ganassi’s No. 68 entry, it was found to have a fuel capacity of 97.83 liters, which is above the maximum allowed capacity of 97 liters for the GTE-Pro Fords.

The No. 67 Ford of Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell, and Jonathan Bomarito subsequently moves up to fourth, and the No. 69 Ford of Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook moves up to fifth.

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