Colton Herta’s hauler catches fire on way to St. Pete; car escapes damage

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The hauler carrying the No. 88 Dallara-Honda of Colton Herta to the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg caught fire early Wednesday morning.

A spokesperson for the team confirmed the incident happened less than 10 miles from reaching the race course. Andretti Autosport used its other transporters to move the pit equipment and car to the racetrack where it would undergo further evaluation.

As of Wednesday at 9:35 a.m., Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport’s evaluation at the track found the car had only minor and cosmetic damage that was caused by heat, smoke and water.

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“We have no current reason to believe that any competition or mechanical aspects of the 88 car have been damaged or compromised,” the team said in an email Wednesday to NBCSports.com. “Our Indy Lights team is already in Florida for testing and is now en route to St. Pete to help evaluate and assess. Additionally, we are sending a team of IndyCar crew members from Indianapolis to St. Pete today in advance of the team’s full arrival (Thursday).

“We are also preparing backup pit equipment at the Indy race shop. This equipment and a spare transporter will depart Indianapolis today as well.”

WFTS reported the fire happened on I-275 in St. Petersburg. WFLA reported no one was injured in the fire. Several southbound lanes of the highway were shut down for more than hour as the flames were doused.

Herta, 19, had an outstanding rookie season in 2019, notching two victories (including the season finale) and becoming the youngest winner in series history.

In a tweet posted Wednesday morning, Andretti Autosport confirmed that no one was harmed, thanking its transporter drivers and local first responders

Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list; Musquin remains out

Shimoda injured
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media
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Bad news continues to come out of the Monster Energy / Pro Circuit Kawasaki team as they announced Jo Shimoda injured his shoulder in a practice session and will not mount up when the Monster Energy Supercross 250 East division opens in Houston, Texas on February 4. A timetable has not been given for Shimoda’s return, but a press release from the team references multiple weeks.

“I’m doing my best to focus forward on my return to racing,” said Shimoda in the release. “Our goal was to compete for the 250 Supercross Eastern Regional Championship and I know we had been doing the right work to make that happen. Unfortunately, this crash will cause me to miss the start of the season, but I still aim to be back on the track racing for wins before the end of Supercross.”

Shimoda is joined on the sidelines by teammates Seth Hammaker and Austin Forkner, who also suffered injuries in recent weeks.

The news of Hammaker’s sidelining came just two days ago. His wrist injury is sufficient to require surgery, so he too will miss multiple weeks. Hammaker was scheduled to compete in the 250 East division alongside Shimoda.

Forkner was involved in a Lap 1 crash in the 250 West season opener at Anaheim. Multiple injuries, including an ACL tear, will sideline him for the remainder of the season. He described the injury and its aftermath on Instagram.

Forkner will be relieved by Carson Mumford, but not before that rider’s wrist has healed sufficiently. He is scheduled to debut with Kawasaki in Oakland for the rescheduled Round 2 Supercross race on February 18.

Shimoda finished fourth in the 2022 Supercross 250 West division and was second in 2021 points in 250 East. In 2021, Shimoda won his first Supercross race at Salt Lake City. Last year, he scored one podium and six top-fives in nine starts.

Shimoda finished second in last year’s outdoor Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season, where he added two more SuperMotocross wins including the Unadilla Nationals that kicked off a four-race streak of first- or second-place results.

Kawasaki is not the only team facing injury. Red Bull KTM initially reported Marvin Musquin would be out for the San Diego round with a wrist injury and “maybe more”. This week it was announced he will miss this week’s Triple Crown race in Anaheim and “at least the next several rounds.”