Herta surpasses father’s tally with Laguna Seca win

Colton Herta. Picture: Joe Skibinski

Colton Herta has edged ahead of his father Bryan Herta’s win tally in the IndyCar Series with victory in the Grand Prix of Monterey.

The Andretti Autosport pilot dominated proceedings at Laguna Seca to claim his fifth career win at just 21 years old.

With second place, IndyCar Series points leader Alex Palou (Chip Ganassi Racing) took another step closer to his maiden crown as he stretched his advantage to 35 points.

Josef Newgarden, who finished seventh, remains in contention for the title – albeit, 48 points in arrears.

Finishes of sixth for Marcus Ericsson and 13th for Scott Dixon saw the Chip Ganassi Racing duo eliminated from the title race.

For Herta, it marked successive wins at Laguna Seca after winning on the category’s return in 2019.

“I’m just happy to have done it,” said Herta.

“This place is so awesome. It’s my favourite track in North America by far and to win here means so much.”

At the start, Herta got the holeshot into Turn 1 despite a challenge from team-mate Alexander Rossi.

Further afield, McLaren SP driver Felix Rosenqvist spun on his own out of Turn 3.

At the end of Lap 1 it was Herta who led Rossi, Will Power (Team Penske), Palou, Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing), Pato O’Ward (McLaren SP), Marcus Ericsson (Chip Ganassi Racing), Simon Pagenaud (Team Penske), Oliver Askew (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing), and Romain Grosjean (Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing).

Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin made a stellar start, surging from 16th to 11th by the close of the first lap.

A mistake by Herta on Lap 2 saw him drop a wheel out of Turn 4 allowing Rossi to mount a challenge into Turn 5.

However, as they navigated the fast left-hander, Rossi got loose and made contact with Herta, sending Rossi into a spin.

With Rossi stalled, a brief yellow flag period interrupted proceedings, which would resume on Lap 5.

Drama struck on lap 10 for second placed Will Power who pitted with an engine issue, taking him out of contention.

Herta soon stretched his legs out to an eight-second advantage before Palou pitted on Lap 17.

Once the pit stop sequence cycled through, Herta’s advantage fell from eight seconds to three.

Herta and Palou found themselves out in clear air at the head of the field and established a sizable advantage at the front, third placed O’Ward some 25 seconds adrift.

Dixon’s day was hampered when Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Takuma Sato spun at the corkscrew, rolling back into the path of the six-time champion.

The pair duly made contact, though both managed to continue on. Sato would later retire from the race on Lap 83.

Come two-thirds of the way, it was still Herta who led Palou with O’Ward a distant third.

Ericsson, Rahal, Pagenaud, Grosjean, Oliver Askew, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and McLaughlin completed the top 10.

Palou made his final stop with 30 laps to go and was soon followed in by Herta.

The final stanza was an uneventful affair for the frontrunners. Herta came upon lapped traffic and had his four-second lead sliced to just half a second.

However, Palou showed no signs of mounting a challenge for the win.

Instead, it was Grosjean who ran long into the race and pitted late who would make the most headway.

He surged to third by the close of play, surviving an airborne moment at the Corkscrew as he and the lapped car of Jimmie Johnson made contact.

In the end, Herta crossed the line to claim a 1.9-second win over Palou. Grosjean’s late push saw him come home 3.7 seconds adrift of Herta for his third podium of the season.

Rahal was a solid fourth while O’Ward finished fifth, keeping himself in contention for the title.

Ericsson, Newgarden, Pagenaud, Askew, and Ed Jones (Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan) completed the top 10.

McLaughlin put a pass on Dixon late in the piece to claim 12th while Power finished 26th and two laps down.

The 2021 IndyCar Series will come to a close on the streets of Long Beach next weekend.

Results: IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Monterey

P No Name Laps Diff Gap Engine Team
1 26 Colton Herta 95 Honda Andretti Autosport
2 10 Alex Palou 95 1.9747 1.9747 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
3 51 Romain Grosjean 95 3.7087 1.734 Honda Dale Coyne Racing w/RWR
4 15 Graham Rahal 95 13.8616 10.1529 Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
5 5 Pato O’Ward 95 24.6972 10.8356 Chevy Arrow McLaren SP
6 8 Marcus Ericsson 95 28.5032 3.806 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
7 2 Josef Newgarden 95 29.7267 1.2235 Chevy Team Penske
8 22 Simon Pagenaud 95 30.4215 0.6948 Chevy Team Penske
9 45 Oliver Askew 95 32.4675 2.046 Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
10 18 Ed Jones 95 47.9944 15.5269 Honda Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan
11 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay 95 67.1843 19.1899 Honda Andretti Autosport
12 3 Scott McLaughlin 95 73.494 6.3097 Chevy Team Penske
13 9 Scott Dixon 95 76.3595 2.8655 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
14 14 Sebastien Bourdais 94 1 Lap 12.5852 Chevy AJ Foyt Enterprises
15 60 Jack Harvey 94 1 Lap 2.7203 Honda Meyer Shank Racing
16 20 Conor Daly 94 1 Lap 0.3807 Chevy Ed Carpenter Racing
17 48 Jimmie Johnson 94 1 Lap 5.348 Honda Chip Ganassi Racing
18 21 Rinus VeeKay 94 1 Lap 5.6846 Chevy Ed Carpenter Racing
19 7 Felix Rosenqvist 94 1 Lap 3.2007 Chevy Arrow McLaren SP
20 29 James Hinchcliffe 94 1 Lap 4.5092 Honda Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport
21 59 Max Chilton 94 1 Lap 1.9156 Chevy Carlin
22 77 Callum Ilott 94 1 Lap 15.8894 Chevy Juncos Hollinger Racing
23 4 Dalton Kellett 94 1 Lap 9.0069 Chevy AJ Foyt Enterprises
24 6 Helio Castroneves 94 1 Lap 0.545 Honda Meyer Shank Racing
25 27 Alexander Rossi 93 2 Laps 26.7355 Honda Andretti Autosport
26 12 Will Power 93 2 Lasp 58.9715 Chevy Team Penske
27 30 Takuma Sato 83 Mechanical Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Join the discussion below in the Speedcafe.com comments section

Please note: Speedcafe.com reserves the right to remove any comment that does not follow the comment policy. For support, contact [email protected]