Colt Hertha won his first win of the IndyCar Series season in Indianapolis, overcoming unpredictable conditions, precautionary periods and numerous incidents.
Hertha’s triumph was also the first for Honda in the 2022 campaign: the Andretti Autosport № 26 crossed the line first in terms of car safety after starting from 14th place in the net.
A total of 85 laps were to be completed, but chaos and carnage as well as rain reduced it to a two-hour limited action.
A timely transition to slippery tires made the race for the American, who led the race by 48 laps.
“It certainly helped us a lot, we took a lot of positions there,” Herta said.
“It’s weird. It was the hardest race I’ve ever done. Wet to dry, dry again to wet.
“Many thanks to the Hoosiers for staying close. I know you are used to such weather, so thank you very much. I love you guys. “
Simon Pagno was second after starting from 20th place in the net, his best result of the season in the Honda No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing, while the Pole Will Power finished the podium in the # 12 Team Penske Chevrolet.
The result on the podium puts Power in the number of points in the series.
The Grand Prix in Indianapolis had it all, as the racers struggled to cope with the change from wet to dry conditions, which threw strategies before the race out the window.
In the rain before the race the start was considered wet and the teams installed wet tires.
However, Herta and Takuma Sato switched to snapshots in just two laps, realizing they could get the advantage. This move was crucial to Hertha’s success, as the rest of the IndyCar field on the 5th lap tried to fit the strategy.
Around the middle of the race the drama began to build.
The rain kept coming and going, and all the drivers regularly adjusted their tires, while the safety car also appeared several times.
The 62nd lap was one of the defining moments when heavy rain sent challengers to the pits behind wet tires, with the exception of Pat O’Ward, Scott McLaughlin and Romain Grosjean, who remained on alternate pictures.
The race resumed on lap 66, Herta screaming past O’Ward, who failed to take the rubber grip on the first turn.
On the 69th lap O’Ward was second in his № 5 Arrow McLaren SP.
Conditions were so unpredictable that several helmsmen spun their cars in yellow flag conditions on slippery tires, failing to return to the pits in time to accommodate the wet rubber.
Three-time Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin became another driver who fell victim to the wet asphalt, breaking out of the leader during a warning and returning to fifth place 15 minutes before the end.
Things went from bad to worse for Kiwi in the # 3 team of Penske Chevrolet, which again lost control after a restart and sank to the back of the field, where it remained 20th.
With adequate traction and confidence in her car, Hertha gradually reduced the lead to 3.8 seconds at Penaud in the final laps before Juan Pablo Mantoia crashed into a wall on his № 6 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.
This incident forced the safety car to complete the race with caution.
Behind the podium, Marcus Ericksins finished fourth after skipping the field in the final stage, coming out of 18th at the start to continue the trend of riders charging hard from the back of the pack.
Indianapolis-born Conor Daly closed the top five in the Chevrolet № 20, his best finish of the campaign to date.
“I’ve never in my life participated in races like this,” Daley said.
“It was the craziest thing I’ve ever felt.”
Felix Rosenquist and Takuma Sato were sixth and seventh.
Calum Helot and Christian Lundgaard were also members of the team with the best result of the season, entering the top 10 in 2022.
Kiwi Scott Dixon finished top 10 in his Honda Chip Ganassi Racing.
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