Colton Herta isn’t your average 21-year-old and Sunday afternoon he again displayed the maturity of an old pro with an impressive win at Mid-Ohio in the Honda Indy 200.
Starting on the pole, the second generation driver led 57 of 75 laps in his Capstone Honda to hold off teammates Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay and give Andretti Autosport a sweep of the podium and finally something to smile about in 2020.
“We finally put everything together and my guys gave me a stellar car,” said Herta, who became IndyCar’s youngest-ever winner in 2019 with a pair of triumphs. “We’ve been knocking on the door and we’ve had the pace but for some reason we just hadn’t closed the deal.
“The only time I get on the podium is when I win so we’ve got to work not that and get some more podium finishes. But a great day for the whole Andretti team.”
The most impressive thing about Herta’s performance was the final 28 laps. He was on red tires while Rossi and Hunter-Reay had to run the primary back Firestones — which last longer but aren’t as quick. In becoming the seventh different winner this season Herta managed to protect his tires and maintain a two-second gap over Rossi all the way to the checkered flag. Graham Rahal also had another strong day, coming from 12th at the start to finish fourth — the same place he ran Saturday in his RLL Honda.
“This is huge,” said Michael Andretti, whose team only had one podium prior to this weekend.
The second 75-lapper of the weekend began with front-row man Santino Ferrucci sliding wide and collecting teammate Alex Palou and Felix Rosenqvist when he came back onto the track.
“He was trying the outside and I had a half a car length going into the corner,” explained Herta.
Other than his two pit stops, Colton was never out of the top spot and, although pressured by Rossi, not really challenged in terms of ever losing command.
Hunter-Reay and Rossi took advantage of that first-lap carnage and slotted into third and fourth after starting eighth and 10th, respectively. Point leader Scott Dixon found himself second on that opening dice and was headed for at least a podium when he spun exiting Turn 1 on Lap 22.
“Stupid mistake — had a fast car and it should have been an easy points day,” said the five-time IndyCar champion, who rallied from 20th to finish 10th and maintained a 72-point lead over Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden with three races remaining. Newgarden wound up eighth.
Will Power, who had a dominant win on Saturday from the pole, brought out the red flag when he spun into the sand trap as qualifying began so he was relegated to a 17th starting spot but charged up through the 23-car field to finish seventh.