CLEVELAND, Ohio (June 28, 2000) â€“ A close look at the numbers indicates that Bryan Hertaâ€™s maiden voyage on board the ...
CLEVELAND, Ohio (June 28, 2000) – A close look at the numbers indicates that Bryan Herta’s maiden voyage on board the #55 Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Mercedes-Benz Reynard at Portland last weekend was far better than his 16th-place finish would lead you to believe.
Pressed into service on less than five days’ notice as a substitute for injured regular Tony Kanaan, and never having driven the car until opening practice Friday morning, the veteran Herta was consistently turning competitive laps in the race.
On Lap 98 of 112, Herta turned the fifth-fastest lap of the race. Only race-winner Gil de Ferran, third-place finisher Christian Fittipaldi, sixth-place finisher Kenny Brack, and 13th-place finisher Alex Tagliani turned faster laps on the day.
Moreover, Herta consistently outperformed five other notable points-producing efforts as Sunday’s race wore on. He turned six laps better than the fastest ones produced by both race runner-up Roberto Moreno and fourth-place finisher Michael Andretti; eight laps faster than the best of both fifth-place finisher Cristiano da Matta and seventh-place finisher and polesitter Helio Castroneves; and 11 laps faster than the best recorded by ninth-place finisher Dario Franchitti. Herta even bested defending series champion Juan Montoya on five laps.
“We knew that it would be a matter of time before Bryan was up to speed,” said team co-owner Morris Nunn. “Most unfortunate for him, the process of setting up the car to his liking that we would have preferred to do on the test track had to take place before the whole racing world to see, so we were behind the 8-ball seemingly all weekend. Once he did get comfortable in the car, we were stung by a bit of back luck and that precluded what might have been a very strong finish, one that he was more deserving of.”
On the team’s first scheduled fuel stop Sunday at Portland, the fuel filler flap (a.k.a. buckeye) was stuck shut, necessitating a second stop just one lap later to fix the problem. Herta lost two laps in that incident. Later, on the second round of fuel stops, Herta committed an entry line violation on his way into the pits, and that warranted a drive-through penalty that cost another lap on the track.
“Those are things that we can fix, that we can prevent in the future,” said Nunn. “This weekend in Cleveland, we’ll be better for those hard lessons we learned in Portland.”