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IndyCar Mid-Ohio

How Herta beat Ericsson for top Andretti IndyCar spot at Mid-Ohio

Behind podium trio O’Ward, Palou and McLaughlin, an intra-Andretti duel was settled by last-stint tire choice at Mid-Ohio

Colton Herta, Andretti Global w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda

Colton Herta, Andretti Global w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda

Photo by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images

Andretti Global team-mates Colton Herta and Marcus Ericsson found themselves flip-flopping fourth place between them in Sunday’s IndyCar race at Mid-Ohio as their tire strategies split in the closing stages.

Herta started fourth ahead of Ericsson, who lost fifth place to a lunging Scott McLaughlin (Team Penske) at the first corner, the Kiwi then also trying his luck to pass Herta on the outside of Turn 5 but got repelled.

McLaughlin overcut Herta at the opening round of pitstops to grab the final spot on the podium, while Ericsson had to fend off the advances of Christian Rasmussen’s Ed Carpenter Racing machine.

On a fresh set of the softer alternate tires, Ericsson then carved into Herta’s advantage over him, as Colton struggled more on his new red-walled rubber. Although Ericsson got by before the final round of pitstops, his gamble on a set of used reds for the final stint backfired, as Herta’s fresh primaries proved the better choice and Colton repassed him to claim fourth.

“It was a bit of a strange race with the pace,” Ericsson told NBC. “We were struggling on the first stint, and then the car came alive in the second stint, lapping half a second quicker than the guys ahead and making up a lot of time.

“I got stuck a bit for a while behind Colton, which cost us some race time, but eventually we got by. For the last stint we went for used reds – because it was so good on the new reds – but we couldn’t get the used ones to hold on, so that gamble didn’t really work out, and I had to let Colton back past there on the last stint.

“I was getting massive vibrations and it’s really hard to drive when you can barely see down the straight! I had Alex [Rossi] and Christian [Lundgaard] all over my mirrors, so it was a bit of a challenge at the end, and I had to push really hard to keep them behind.

“A race with many ups and downs but still happy with a top-five finish on a really solid weekend for us.”

Marcus Ericsson, Andretti Global Honda

Marcus Ericsson, Andretti Global Honda

Photo by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images

From his side, Herta reported: “Our car was fast but we didn’t quite have the speed of the top three, so I’m happy with fourth. The pitstops were awesome and the strategy was great but we were just missing that last little bit of speed to crack into the top three.”

He also pronounced himself pleased with the debut of IndyCar’s new hybrid power unit, which provided an extra power boost of 60bhp on every lap.

“We wanted a clean and reliable race from the power unit and we really checked all the boxes we wanted to from that side,” he said. “We’re still learning, and we’re still trying to optimize it.”

IndyCar moves on to Iowa this weekend for a double-header event, the first oval races for the new powertrain.

“We were fastest when we tested there, so that’s a really good showing for us, but it’s a lot of unknowns still,” Herta added. “With the surface change we don’t know how much difference that’s going to be, will it open up Lane 2 or not, what the downforce level will be and how the tires are going to react to that.

“I’m excited about the race this weekend, I’m excited about back-to-back races, I love doing this kinda stuff.”

The team’s other driver, Kyle Kirkwood, sprinted up from 14th on the grid to finish eighth.

“I’m pretty happy with that result considering how we did in qualifying,” said Kirkwood. “We were fast and had great pace by the end of the race, but we just started a bit too deep in the field to do anything with that.

“We really should have been up there with Colton and Marcus. At least we were able to make up some spots and get good speed after a tough qualifying yesterday.”

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