WATCH: Colton Herta OK after wild ride during IndyCar crash at Iowa

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Colton Herta and Rinus VeeKay were unhurt after a wild crash during a Lap 156 restart in the NTT IndyCar Series race at Iowa Speedway.

As IndyCar waved off the start, Herta still was accelerating, and his No. 88 Dallara-Honda collided with the left rear of VeeKay’s No. 21 Dallara-Chevrolet.

The impact launched Herta’s car into the air and it pirouetted above the frontstretch SAFER barrier for about 30 feet before violently returning to the pavement.

LAST TO FIRST: Simon Pagenaud wins in Iowa

“It happened so fast, I wasn’t really sure what was going on, but I’m happy to report, I’m fine,” Herta told NBCSN pit reporter Kelli Stavast. “No injuries. I feel perfectly fine and fit to drive (in Saturday’s race).”

Herta’s streak of four consecutive top 10 finishes was snapped. He said he wasn’t slowing down because he wasn’t aware the restart was aborted. IndyCar officials said they waved off the restart because Pato O’Ward was ruled to have jumped the start.

“I wasn’t told the restart was called off,” Herta said. “I was told green. I wasn’t going to go by the lights when I was told green. So that’s what happened. And there you go. I guess everyone else got the message. Happy to be OK.”

Here’s a sequence of photos from the crash:

IndyCar Colton Herta crash
Chris Jones/IndyCar
IndyCar Colton Herta crash
Chris Jones/IndyCar
IndyCar Colton Herta crash
Chris Jones/IndyCar
IndyCar Colton Herta crash
Joe Skibinski/IndyCar

VeeKay also was checked and released from the care center and cleared to drive.

“It really sucks,” VeeKay told Stavast. “We were having ana amazing race. This could have been a podium or maybe even a win. Really a bummer. I know we have an amazing car to go for a podium or a win tomorrow. I’m really confident.”

VeeKay also credited being uninjured in the Colton Herta crash to the aeroscreen, which was introduced this year by IndyCar for enhanced cockpit safety by essentially adding a windshield to help protect drivers’ heads.

“Yeah, I’m very happy, especially with the safety,” VeeKay said. “I stepped out. I saw the whole row. So yeah, the screen was destroyed. Thank you to IndyCar for the great safety cell and let’s go for it tomorrow.”

Race winner Simon Pagenaud said his first thought upon seeing “two cars flying behind me pretty high was, ‘Thank God we’ve got the aeroscreen. Again, I’ve been in big favor of the aeroscreen for safety. Unfortunately being around what happened to Justin (Wilson, who was killed after being struck by debris in an August 2015 crash at Pocono Raceway) was really tough, really tough for everybody.

“Obviously being there and seeing it happen was extremely hard, so I’m so glad that IndyCar is doing everything they can to be the pioneer into a new level of safety, and I welcome it.”

Said Team Penske driver Will Power, who also was protected from a loose left-front wheel that was jarred loose and went flying over his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet in a crash: “Man, I can’t thank IndyCar enough for everything they’ve done safety-wise with the aeroscreen and halo inside the aeroscreen. You just saw Colton Herta go over the top of someone, and they’ve just done a tremendous job. It’s better than any other series that have implemented something like it. Just a very good job.”

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.