INDYCAR Photo by Chris Owens
INDYCAR Photo by Chris Owens

Colton Herta was the showstopper at Texas

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FORT WORTH, Texas – Apparently, nobody told rookie driver Colton Herta about the high-speed intimidation battle that is the NTT IndyCar Series at Texas Motor Speedway.

The 19-year-old never flinched in Saturday night’s DXC Technology 600 before his race ended in a crash just 19 laps from a potential victory. He tried to pass Scott Dixon for second place by diving to the inside of Dixon’s No. 9 PNC Bank Honda. Dixon tried to protect his line and squeezed Herta’s No. 88 GESS Capstone Honda toward the white line.

Once Herta’s car barely dipped into the white line that separates the apron from the racetrack, the rear of his car broke loose. Herta slid into Dixon, sending both cars in a crash that began in Turn 3 and ended in Turn 4.

Dixon, a five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion who has won 45 races, apologized for the racing incident. Later, however, his wife Emma said he felt differently after watching the replay on NBCSN’s telecast of the race.

“I just heard them saying (Herta) was looking inside, and I started to track down to try and close it off,” Dixon explained after both drivers were checked and released from the Texas Motor Speedway Infield Care Center. “It was towards the end of the race. As I was doing that and looking down, I could still see his shadow there on the apron, and I knew it wasn’t going to work out there.

“Sorry if that was my fault. I was just really pushing and trying to get the most out of it toward the end of the race in the PNC Bank car.”

Herta may have not been the winner, but he certainly put on the show. He was fast and fearless at the 1.5-mile, high-banked oval, out-dueling such racing rivals as Alexander Rossi with some fantastic passes on the outside.

Rossi is considered the most aggressive driver in the NTT IndyCar Series, but there were a few moments in Saturday’s race where Herta “out-Rossied” Rossi.

Herta became the youngest winning in NTT IndyCar Series history when he won the March 24 IndyCar Classic at Circuit of the Americas. In a return trip to Texas, Herta could have scored win No. 2.

Instead, he was left explaining his part in the crash that set up the final dash to the checkered flag – ultimately won by Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden.

And he had no problem taking issue with Dixon’s move.

“(Scott Dixon) apologized and that’s what it seemed like from my point of view,” Herta said after he was checked and released from the care center. “He just turned down on me from my point of view. I was there, and he put me on the apron.

“I was more than enough ahead. He didn’t need to do it. That outside lane was there, and he could have run the outside. He must not have known (I was there).”

Herta started 10th and finished 18th.

Dixon is the most respected driver in the paddock and is often the voice and conscience of everyone else in it.

There’s a good chance Dixon will help Herta use Saturday night’s incident as a learning experience.

One thing is certain, though – Herta has proven to be a fast learner.

“I’m really happy with how the car was,” Herta said. “The GESS Capstone car (and) all the boys did an amazing job. Big congrats to IndyCar for bringing the updates to the front wing and the new tires because it made the racing a hell of a lot better.

“We’ll keep trucking. This is a DNF (did not finish) that I’ll take because I was really happy with my performance.”

Supercross points leader Eli Tomac finds silver linings in interruption

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Though his Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship charge was put on hold, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had a silver lining for Eli Tomac.

Off the road while the season was postponed for nearly three months, the points leader was able to be present as his girlfriend, Jessica, gave birth to their daughter, Lev, on April 26

“A huge blessing for us there,” Tomac told host Mike Tirico during a “Lunch Talk Live” interview (click on the video above) in which he also joked about becoming a pro at busting off diaper changes. “That was one good blessing for us as we had our daughter on a Sunday, that would have been on a travel day coming back from the race in Las Vegas.

NBCSN

“That was probably the only positive out of all this mess was being able to be there for the birth.”

But there also could be more good fortune for Tomac as the series resumes Sunday at Salt Lake City, Utah (3-4 p.m. ET on NBCSN, 4-6 p.m. on NBC).

The final seven events will be held over 22 days in Rice-Eccles Stadium, which sits at just over 4,000 feet.

The elevation could favor Tomac, who was born and lives in Colorado and is accustomed to riding and training at altitude, which is a departure for many Supercross riders (many of whom hail from California and Florida).

COVID-19 TESTING REQUIRED: Supercross outlines protocols for last seven races

“That’s going to be the test for us,” said the Kawasaki rider, who five of the first 10 races this season. “We’re at elevation in Salt Lake, so when you’re on a motorcycle, you have a little bit of a loss of power. That’s just what happens when you come up in elevation. And a lot of guys train at sea level, and we’re at 4,000 to 5,000 feet, so cardio-wise, we’ll be pushed to the limit.

“Most of our races are Saturday nights and back to back weeks, but this go around it’s Sunday and Wednesday, so recovery is going to be key.”

Supercross will race Sunday and Wednesday for the next three weeks, capping the season with the June 21 finale, which also will be shown on NBCSN from 3-4:30 p.m. ET and NBC from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.

Tomac, who holds a three-point lead over Ken Roczen (who also recently visited “Lunch Talk Live”), told Tirico he had been riding for 90 minutes Thursday morning on a track outside Salt Lake City.

“Most of us we can rely on our past riding pretty well,” Tomac said. “The question is if you can go the distance. That’s what a lot of guys have to train on is going the distance. We go 20 minutes plus a lap. That’s what you’ve got to keep sharp is your general muscles. Within two to three days, your brain starts warming up more if you take a few weeks off the motorcycle.”

Here is the schedule and TV information for the rest of the season:

  • Sunday, May 31 (3-4 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4-6 p.m. ET, NBC);
  • Wednesday, June 3 ( 10:00 pm – 1:00 am ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 7 (5-8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 10 (7–10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 14 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 17 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 21 (3-4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET, NBC).
Eli Tomac rides his No. 3 Kawasaki in the Feb. 29 race at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia (Charles Mitchell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).