At this rate, go ahead and send Colton Herta the trophy for next year’s NTT IndyCar Series race at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
On his debut in 2019, Herta led 83 of 90 laps, and if that gaudy stat wasn’t enough, the Andretti Autosport driver improved it to leading 91 of 95 on Sunday at the Firestone Grand Prix. Together, that’s 174 of 195 race laps for a 94 percent mastery of the track where his father Bryan also recorded his best days in the sport.
Although the end result of the 2021 race was the same from two years ago, victory, Herta said there was a notable difference as Firestone’s primary and faster red-banded alternate tires became the new challenge to manage.
“The biggest difference would be the compound,” he told RACER. “It tended to wear a lot if you had used tires. But the new tires tended to stay in there, which was surprising because I didn’t expect that at all. New reds were better than [primaries] on track. This is the last place I would think that would happen. The pace drop-off was significant for both, but the reds just stayed that little bit better the whole time and were able to hang on for a good 20 laps before you kind of hit that cliff. But the pace advantage on the reds was massive.”
Herta also had the comfort of his father leading the race strategy side this year. In 2019, it was Brian Barnhart serving as the race-winning strategist.
“I think it means more to have my dad on the timing stand for a race like this,” Herta added. “But both are great strategists. Both got me many wins. I love working with both. I guess to win at Laguna Seca, it’s awesome to have another Herta there.”
This is Herta’s house.
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) September 19, 2021
And about that stat of leading 94 percent of the race laps he’s run in Monterey?
“I think that just shows how dominant the cars were today, right?” he said. “We had great cars. I think it’s easy to say that we had the best car. We could push when we wanted, we could conserve when we wanted. Our pace didn’t seem to be too affected. Never felt at any point vulnerable during the race. Really easy to be calm and cool because of how good the car was.”