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.”

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

IMSA
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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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