Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Motorsport prime

Discover premium content
Subscribe

Edition

Global

Herta: Long Beach pole a result of “drawing-board” setup rethink

Colton Herta delivered the eighth pole position of his IndyCar career at Long Beach this afternoon after struggling on Friday with his Andretti Autosport-Honda’s setup on the extremely gripped-up track.

Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

Herta produced a 65.3095sec lap in the Firestone Fast Six, eclipsing the previous qualifying lap record by 0.9sec and earning pole by 0.4455sec. But he admitted it came as a result of difficulties in opening practice when he was almost seven-tenths off the pace.

“Yesterday was a struggle for us,” he said. “We kind of went to the drawing board overnight, brought something completely different out for today. It worked really well. I was really happy with it.

“Obviously our one-lap pace is really strong. Now we're kind of shifting focus to the racecar. Seems like we can get up to tire temp really fast, get a lap in, so I was really happy with that.”

The fact that the Long Beach track gave so much grip on Friday in 95-deg heat – 130degF track temp – shocked several drivers. Even now, the reason for this behavior was a puzzle, Herta unconvinced that the presence of IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the Porsche Carrera Cup was responsible for the “bizarre” track tendencies.

“I feel like we put grip down so fast that usually our rubber is down in the first three minutes anyway. Yesterday was very strange. I don't know if it was the track temp with the Michelin rubber [as used by IMSA] or what was going on. Something was up with the track yesterday. Just had a bunch of grip. It was very strange…

“The Fountain [Turns 2-3] is part of where that sealer went down from last year. There's a little bit of a difference there. Throughout the day I think it stayed pretty similar. That was one of the spots I thought was a lot faster than what I remember it being in the past few years, yeah.”

The shift in his Andretti-Honda’s behavior from Friday’s major heat to Saturday (66degF ambient/111degF track) was remarkable, said Herta.

“The car when we went out this morning felt completely different,” he said. “The steering, the kickback, the heaviness of the wheel – completely changed from yesterday, which is bizarre. I never really felt that in first practice anywhere in an IndyCar, let alone a street circuit. It was very weird.

“But the track temp also came down a bunch which is the biggest thing. We had a little bit more cloud cover today and track temp was down tremendously from yesterday.”

Herta also addressed the issue of the strange end to the Firestone Fast Six session, when teammate Romain Grosjean shunted, bringing out the red flag. There were two seconds of guaranteed time left on the clock, and IndyCar permitted one last flying lap for any potential takers. Only Alexander Rossi and Felix Rosenqvist took the bait, and they failed to improve, while a puzzled Herta stood by and kept his fingers crossed that their tires and brakes wouldn’t get up to temperature as fast as his did.

“I was told the session was over, that we had the pole,” said Herta who won last year’s Grand Prix of Long Beach from 14th on the grid. “I was driving in, Alex was out of the car, Josef was out of the car. I never really heard of that rule. I don't think it's ever really been put into effect… I didn't understand it, yeah, must be a very new rule…

“I didn't know what was going on. I didn't know what tires people had, what was going to be best for them, if it was going to be first lap, second lap, third lap [that was the fastest]. I had no clue. I knew anything could happen.

“When only two guys rolled out of the pits, it made me feel a little bit better, but it was still Rossi and Felix, who are fast guys. I think I got a little bit lucky that it wasn't first lap for them and it was for me.”

Be part of Motorsport community

Join the conversation
Previous article Long Beach traffic woes frustrate potential pole-winners
Next article Long Beach IndyCar: Herta, Dixon, Ericsson lead warm-up

Top Comments

There are no comments at the moment. Would you like to write one?

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Motorsport prime

Discover premium content
Subscribe

Edition

Global