Indy GP Indy Lights: Herta sweeps weekend after fierce battle
Andretti Steinbrenner Racing’s Colton Herta scored his second Indy Lights win in two days at the IMS road course after pressuring long-time leader Santi Urrutia into a mistake in the closing stages of Race 2.
At the start, O’Ward, who’d earned pole over Andretti Autosport teammate Herta by just 0.007sec, just about held onto the lead out of Turn 1, but Herta got passed on each side by the Belardi Auto Racing cars of Urrutia and Aaron Telitz, as Victor Franzoni of Juncos Racing headed the other two Andretti cars of Ryan Norman and Dalton Kellett.
Into Turn 1 on Lap 2, Herta braked down the inside of Telitz who then ran onto the grass on the exit and briefly dropped to sixth. However, Kellett falling off the track allowed him back into fifth.
The incident had cost Herta, too, as Franzoni nipped through into third, but more significantly, at Turn 7, Urrutia outbraked O’Ward to grab the lead, and then started inching away.
Franzoni played fair when Herta pulled up onto his tail at the end of Lap 6, and when his ‘one move’ to block didn’t intimidate the Andretti Steinbrenner driver, Franzoni moved back onto the racing line and let Herta dive past.
However, by now Herta was 2.5sec adrift of teammate O’Ward who had 1sec deficit to Urrutia. Both those gaps started to come down from Lap 8, but the next order change was Telitz passing Franzoni for fourth on Lap 14, although Franzoni tried to respond at Turn 1 next time by.
Herta kept pressuring O’Ward and on the 21st of 35 laps, O’Ward missed his braking point at the end of the front straight, locked a wheel and ran wide. Herta was through.
Now he had 13 laps to close down the 1.3sec lead that Urrutia had eked out. At this stage Urrutia 16 push-to-pass overboosts left, and Herta 11, but Herta hunted him down. With 6 laps to go, Herta made his hardest stab for the lead yet, but his attempt to go around the outside of Urrutia lost momentum when the Uruguayan locked up and pushed wide, costing both of them momentum. Simultaneously, O’Ward, who’d tripped over the grass, pitted and rejoined seventh and last.
A ferocious defense by Urrutia down the back straight didn’t intimidate Herta, and he clung on through the twisty section. Down the front straight, Herta got the draft and went to the outside of Turn 1 once more but this time hung on, half on the grass with Urrutia alongside. As they turned into the left-handed Turn 2, they made contact, Urrutia spun and Herta was home dry.
Urrutia recovered to fourth, having lost second to teammate Telitz and third to Franzoni, while Norman and Kellett came home fifth and sixth.
Herta has now pulled to within one point of O’Ward in the points standings, with Urrutia just a further five points in arrears.
Indy GP Indy Lights: Herta wins despite Turn 1 incident
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