It was only testing, it didn’t pay anything and it wasn’t even on NBC Gold. But Colton Herta threw down a lap Thursday at Laguna Seca’s WeatherTech Raceway that should give the competition something to ponder overnight.
The 19-year-old rookie topped six hours of testing for Sunday’s IndyCar finale with a lap of 1m10.0720s around the scenic 2.238-mile road course in his Capstone Honda for Harding Steinbrenner Racing.
But the impressive part of that run was that it was half a second clear of everyone – with Will Power’s 1m10.5383s in his Verizon Chevy the second-best lap.
“It doesn’t mean much other than being set up for the rest of the weekend and giving you a good baseline to go off of,” said the second generation star who became IndyCar’s youngest winner ever last spring at COTA. “We did a lot of setup work, some good stuff, some bad stuff, but we were just going down the test plan.”
Herta’s time was a second quicker than Scott Dixon’s pace-setter in the morning session as the track rubbered up for IndyCar’s first visit here in 15 years.
Of course the focal point of this weekend is whether Josef Newgarden can capture his second championship in three years, or if Alexander Rossi can overcome his 41-point lead – or perhaps Simon Pagenaud come from a point further back than Rossi to beat both of them.
Newgarden was fourth fastest in the afternoon runs at 1m10.6404s, putting him a few hundredths behind Felix Rosenqvist, while Pagenaud was eighth fastest at 1m10.8131s, and Rossi ninth at 1m10.8231s.
Friday has a pair of practice periods, followed by one more Saturday morning prior to qualifying.