Colton Herta was on pole for the Firestone Grand Prix in 2019 and completely disappeared once the race got under way.
Leading 83 of 90 laps, the Andretti-affiliated driver from Harding Steinbrenner Racing was on a different planet on his debut at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, and with his first chance to author a repeat, the driver of the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda has written the first part of the story with another pole at the 11-turn road course for Sunday’s Firestone GP.
It begs the question: What makes the Southern Californian so good at the circuit five hours north from where he was raised?
“I really don’t know what it is,” he admitted. “Maybe it’s like the fast-cambered corners. I always like driving those. I don’t know if I’m particularly good at them. I’ve no clue. Every time I come here, (I) gel well with the track. So yeah, maybe I don’t need to look into it. Maybe I don’t need to overthink it.”
One key to Herta’s easy speed at Laguna Seca — and most tracks — is his race engineer, Nathan O’Rourke.
“I think we just speak the same language,” he added. “We understand our roles that I’m the driver and he’s the engineer, and I don’t think we overstep on either of those rules, which is nice. Sometimes you can have a driver that also tries to be the engineer. I don’t think that’s the right approach. I think it’s hurtful. We both know our roles and we work well together. We have the same sense of humor and personality-wise, we’re pretty similar. And he’s an amazing engineer. As we’ve seen, he’s given me great race cars.”