Colton Herta’s approach to preparing for the NTT IndyCar Series’ second consecutive doubleheader involves preserving weary muscles and tired bones before they’re pushed to the limit in Iowa.
The Andretti Autosport driver’s regimen between Road America’s road course and Iowa’s short oval involves readying himself for extreme heat and humidity as he and 22 other drivers sprint through 250 laps of racing Friday night, and return Saturday for another 250.
“It’s definitely going to be a hot one,” the 20-year-old told RACER. “I’m trying to hydrate as much as I can this week, not training too hard, taking it light on the bike and doing a lot less than I normally would since we’ve been racing so much this month.
“I’d guess everyone’s in good physical shape now after the races we’ve had, and have picked up their training programs, so I think everyone should be OK to get through it. But I’d say for what we’re expecting, Iowa’s going to be the toughest weekend so far. It’s going to be hot, and it’s such a mental task to drive this track. If you add in the physical side, and the heat, and to deal with the bumps, it’s probably going to wear everybody out.”
The mental side of the sport has been among Herta’s strongest attributes since joining the series. Girding his mind against the anticipated heat and suffering will be important if he’s to leave the event with quality finishes.
“You just have to understand that yeah, it sucks for you, but it’s the same for everyone,” he said. “Even the fittest drivers are going to be red in the face. You’re probably going to want it to be over, and won’t want to drive for an hour and a half in those conditions, but you still get to drive an IndyCar, and you’re going for an IndyCar championship, so you have to put all of those thoughts and inputs aside to do your job.”
Holding second in the championship standings, Herta and the No. 88 Honda team will look to add more intensity to their race strategy once the green flag waves over the first Iowa 250. Methodical in their approach through the first four rounds, carving into the sizable 54-point advantage held by Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon is a new priority.
“With where we are, it’s just been trying to get through these first few races, get to the halfway point of the season, which we’re at after this event, and keep the mistakes to a minimum,” Herta said. “I’ve been intentionally trying to make our pit stops easy for the crew, not hit the box too hard, and it seems like everyone’s had a lot of mistakes there, but we haven’t so far. But Dixon has been doing a lot of winning and we need to catch up to him, so now we’re going to turn it up a bit more.”