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.
“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.
St. Petersburg Fire Rescue firefighters are on-scene of a vehicle fire on Southbound Interstate 275 & Ulmerton Rd. The semi-tractor trailer was hauling the IndyCar Series vehicle for Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Racing driver Colton Herta. Three lanes are closed, one is open. pic.twitter.com/Rh7skETO1O
— WFLA NEWS (@WFLA) March 11, 2020
In a tweet posted Wednesday morning, Andretti Autosport confirmed that no one was harmed, thanking its transporter drivers and local first responders
We want to thank everyone for the outreach and concern. We are still evaluating any damages and hope to have an update soon.
We are thankful to report that no one was harmed, and want to thank our transport drivers and local first responders for their quick action and support. https://t.co/71hRYc2yFI
— Andretti Autosport (@FollowAndretti) March 11, 2020