Herta not panicking as year since last win approaches

Michael L. Levitt/Motorsport Images

Herta not panicking as year since last win approaches


Herta not panicking as year since last win approaches


Colton Herta’s fifth season as an NTT IndyCar Series driver has been a strange affair.

The Andretti Autosport veteran captured a win in only his third start, becoming the youngest IndyCar winner to date, and added another win to close his rookie season in 2019. He earned another in 2020 and delivered three more in 2021. His most recent, earned last May at the Indianapolis Grand Prix, took his career tally up to seven victories and nine pole positions, but the pace of Herta’s swift success has come to a crawl.

When he rolls away from pre-grid on Saturday at the next Indy GP, Herta will be 24 hours shy of the one-year anniversary since he stood atop the podium which, in a career filled with highlights, has been a genuine surprise.

If going at least 364 days or more without victory isn’t enough of an anomaly, Herta’s yet to earn a pole this season while teammates Romain Grosjean and Kyle Kirkwood have combined to claim three from four races; Kirkwood was also the first among the Andretti foursome to produce a race win in 2023. Expected to lead all aspects of Andretti Autosport’s return to prominence, Round 5 in Indy offers another opportunity for Herta and the No. 26 Honda team to break out of a slump and make its presence felt.

“It’s obviously not the best start, but it’s not a bad one by any means,” Herta, who holds 10th in the Drivers’ championship, told RACER. “We’re still in the hunt in points and whatnot, but we haven’t really had a standout weekend yet. Which sucks, but it is what it is.”

If anyone’s concerned about the slow start, Herta isn’t among them. A crash with Will Power while running competitively at the opening race was followed by leading and placing seventh at Texas. Herta’s home race at Long Beach – Andretti’s best event so far – ended with a Kirkwood pole and win with Grosjean in second and Herta in fourth, and it was the last round in Alabama where Herta experienced his first bout of weekend-long anonymity.

Herta’s most recent victory came at last year’s GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis road course. Brett Farmer/Motorsport Images

“We’ve been fast, but nothing’s really played into our hands,” he continued. “Obviously St. Pete was tough; we got ‘Power’d.’ At Texas, we didn’t take tires in the last 25 laps when everybody else did, so there’s been a few cases where we’ve had decent pace and just haven’t really made the most out of it.

“But I’ve never felt like the car has been good, and you can clearly see that. We had a fourth at Long Beach from starting eighth or ninth or whatever, and only Barber wasn’t a great weekend for us, but we know what went wrong there. And now we’re going back to a place that we’ve been strong at in the past.”

Herta says there’s no panic or concern on his end, and sees the Indy GP as a perfect place to get his season on track.

“No, it doesn’t feel like that; it feels like the most competitive year that I’ve run IndyCar,” Herta proclaimed. “We’ve got great cars and we can win at this track, whether it’s raining or dry. And no one’s really had a great year, with the exception of one or two guys. It’s pretty crazy. It’s really tight right now from fourth to 12th in the points compared to pretty much every other year.”

One the Indy GP is over, the series’ attention shifts to the Indy 500 where Herta and the Andretti team showed individual and group pace at the recent open test. Along with chasing his first win of 2023, Herta’s also in hot pursuit of the first IndyCar oval victory of his career.

“I actually felt great at that test,” he said. “We didn’t do a bunch of laps, but I felt like we could put up a big lap when we had to. The car felt really good, really comfortable in it. I was super happy with how everything went.”