Photo: Josh Chin/Motorsports Tribune

Colton Herta wins 400th Indy Lights Race

By Christopher DeHarde, IndyCar & Road to Indy Writer

Colton Herta captured his second Indy Lights win of the season and with it, the milestone 400th race dating back to 1986, on Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park.

After a start which saw an opening lap collision between Pato O’Ward and Zachary Claman De Melo that led to both drivers retiring from the race, Herta caught Kaiser napping on the restart and drove away to extend his points lead.

Behind Herta and Kaiser, Belardi Auto Racing driver Santiago Urrutia saw his bad luck from the first part of the race weekend continue as the Uruguayan spun soon after going back to green.

Herta remained unchallenged as Kaiser finished second ahead of Nico Jamin, Neil Alberico and Aaron Telitz.

For Herta, there was a bit of a nice perk to winning the race on Sunday besides joining Eddie Lawson, A.J. Foyt IV and James Hinchcliffe as winners of the 100th, 200th and 300th Indy Lights races respectively.

“It’s awesome and to see some of the guys that came before me, it’s really cool. I’d say the biggest bonus though is having two trophies. You get a first place trophy and a 400th race trophy. It was intense, I think it was a bit easier today because it was cooler, still hot in the car though and it was more about just managing the gap,” Herta said.

Kaiser pushed to second in points following the race and is keeping his eye on the rest of the season.

“We came into this weekend fifth in points and we’re walking away second so I’m not going to sit here and complain about being the runner up in the 400th race, I’m in it to win the championship and this was a solid weekend for that,” Kaiser said.

Jamin was victorious in Saturday’s race but was able to make the best of his situation starting fourth.

“It’s good you know, from where we started in fourth on points, […] I couldn’t expect a lot more than third or second maybe, it’s really hard to pass around here.  I got a really good pass around the outside of Aaron on the first corner and from then on just tried to chase Kyle but it’s really hard, as soon as you get close you get aero turbulence,” Jamin said.

In Alberico’s case, this was his best Indy Lights weekend in his second season of racing in the top step of the Mazda Road to Indy.

“We had a good run, chased down Nico, we had pace for the win today, its just that qualifying is a big deal so it’s a bummer we didn’t get a chance to qualify up front. Two weekends down, three top fives, two podiums, just have to keep plugging away,” Alberico said.

Telitz was driving the No. 9 Rice Lakes Weighing Systems Soul Red Mazda, the Soul Red livery representing his winning a Mazdaspeed scholarship for winning the 2016 Pro Mazda championship.

“That was good at least, we were having just such a struggle this weekend [and] couldn’t get anything to go for us, the only lucky thing that happened is that we started on points which put me third for this race,” Telitz said.

“We pretty much yard-saled my car last night so we tried everything new, we had a new setup on the car [and] a new gear stack, so the first few laps as I was learning what the car wanted to do I got passed by a couple of guys there, Nico and Neil who were just quicker than me, but once I got going I settled into a decent rhythm.

“I did some okay laps, but we weren’t real consistent because it was the first time I had driven that setup on that car so you know, a tough weekend but it was frustrating but at least to come out of it with at least a top five and not lose too many points to the leaders, [it] could’ve been way worse, I could’ve had two terrible finishes,” Telitz added.

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A 2012 graduate of LSU, Christopher DeHarde primarily focuses on the NTT IndyCar Series and the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship. DeHarde has actively covered motorsports since 2014.