INDYCAR Photo by Matt Fraver
INDYCAR Photo by Matt Fraver

Young Herta craves another IndyCar victory

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BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Now that Colton Herta has tasted victory, the youngest winner in NTT IndyCar Series history craves it.

“Every day since I’ve done it it’s been like that,” said Herta, who turned 19 on March 30. “I couldn’t believe it when it happened, and it’s still kind of hard to believe.

“It was a blessing, but it was also terrible because now I just want to win every race, now that I have that feeling of winning an IndyCar race. It’s pretty incredible. It’s hard to describe, but I definitely have a little bit more of a fire in my belly to go out there and get it done this weekend.”

Herta won the March 24 INDYCAR Classic at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. He was 18 years, 11 months and 25 days old.

Graham Rahal was the previous youngest winner. He was 19 years, 3 months and 2 days old when he won the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in in 2008.

Since that historic victory, the teenager’s life has been a whirlwind. He was part of a Media Tour in New York to help promote the NTT IndyCar Series, and Sunday’s race – the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.

Watch the race on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN or at NBCSports.com or the NBC Sports app

“I don’t mind doing this stuff if this is what comes with winning,” Herta said. “Yeah, I enjoyed it. I always love going to New York. I got to go see Opening Day for the New York Yankees, got to do 30 Rock, as well, which was cool to see where they film SNL (Saturday Night Live on NBC). I got to do a lot of media.

“It’s nice to kind of be done with the media and start focusing on the driving. I always enjoy that part a little bit more. It was nice to get down here a little early, as well, and promote the race.”

Herta backed up that success in Friday’s two practice sessions for Sunday’s Honda Grand Prix of Alabama. He finished as the second fastest driver of the day with a fast lap of 1:09.0084 around the 2.3-mile, 17-turn Barber Motorsports Park for a speed of 119.985 miles per hour in the No. 88 Honda.

“I think we had a pretty good baseline coming here,” Herta explained. “We worked a lot on the sim (simulator). I know a lot of the guys were in the sim, so we got in there Tuesday after COTA, and we found some good stuff, and that translated into our starting setup a little bit. So, we already had a baseline on what we felt comfortable with, and moving forward, just little things, spring changes, maybe a little bit in the damping (shocks). We found general changes, not too big a changes.”

While COTA was a wide-open, “Wild, Wild West Show,” the Barber race has some significant challenges. It is fast, yet tricky. It is free-flowing, but has some corners where drivers have to be on top of their game, or they will end up in the gravel trap.

“There’s so much that’s challenging about it,” Herta said. “The whole thing, it’s a bunch of combination corners, so corners left followed by right, so you can give in the left-handers and get in the right-handers or you can get in the left-handers and give the right-handers.

“You can never drive a perfect lap here. It’s so different. You could have a great setup and feel like you did a killer lap time and come in and be a half a second off. It’s just that type of place. It’s probably the toughest track that we go to. It’s definitely the most technical for the driving style, and quite a bit different from COTA. We have 1,600 PSI brake pressure with COTA and then you come here and you’re getting 1,000, so it’s a completely different track.”

The young driver did quite well at Barber in the Indy Lights Series with wins from the pole in Indy Lights in back-to-back years (2017-2018).

“I enjoy driving on the track,” Herta said. “Racing on the track is a little bit more difficult. There’s not a lot of passing opportunities, but obviously pit stops open that up a lot, and it’s actually usually a pretty good race here, depending on how good the passing is.

“It’s a track I enjoy. I’ve had a few poles here in Indy Lights, and it’s just a beautiful facility, too. It’s an incredible facility.”

IMSA results, points, stats package after Sunday at Road America

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Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor delivered Team Penske’s first victory this season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, winning at Road America from the pole position Sunday and moving up to sixth in points after finishing no better than seventh in the first three races this season.

The Team Penske No. 7 Acura DPi led a race-high 48  of 63 laps, including the final four after Castroneves seized a restart to take first from Renger van der Zande, who finished second with Ryan Briscoe in the No. 10 Cadillac DPi.

Other class winners at the Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, road course were the No. 81 ORECA LMP2 07 of Henrik Hedman and Ben Hanley in LMP2, the No. 3 Corvette C8.R of Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor in GTLM and the No. 12 Lexus RC F GT3 of Townsend Bell and Frankie Montecalvo in GTD.

RAIN-SOAKED RELIEF: Castroneves delivers Penske’s first win with late pass

Here are the race stats, points and results from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at Road America:


RESULTS: Click here for the overall finishing order and here for the class breakdown.

POINTS: In the DPi standings, the No. 10 Cadillac of Briscoe and van der Zande leads by six points (124-118) over the No. 5 Cadillac of Joao Barbosa and Sebastien Bourdais.

The No. 3 Corvette of Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor leads the GTLM standings with 130 points, 10 more than the No. 912 Porsche of Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor.

In GTD, the No. 12 Lexus of Bell and Montecalvo moved into the lead by four points (121-117) over AIM Vasser Sullivan teammates Jack Hawksworth and Aaron Telitz in the No. 14 Lexus.

The No. 38 of Performance Tech Motorsport leads in LMP2.

Click here for the points standings for drivers and teams after Road America.

STATS PACKAGE FOR ROAD AMERICA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Leader sequence

Lap chart

Race analysis by lap

NEXT: The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GT classes will race Aug. 21-22 at Virginia International Raceway.