By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
INDIANAPOLIS — Colton Herta came from the middle of the pack after a hectic start – where he fell from second – to earn his first Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires race win of the season.
After a start where polesitter Pato O’Ward was hit from behind by Victor Franzoni, Herta was trapped behind O’Ward and fell back to fifth place in the seven car field.
Santi Urrutia took the lead at the start and defended his lead against Victor Franzoni’s advances. Franzoni would go off track trying to pass Urrutia and would fall back to sixth.
Herta passed O’Ward on Lap 9 then got around Franzoni a couple of laps later. The No. 98 Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing car then moved to second on Lap 12 at which time Herta was chasing down the Uruguayan quite hard.
Herta took the lead on Lap 15 and would lead the rest of the way to score his first win of 2018. Urrutia would claim second while Telitz would finish third.
For Herta, fighting back was critical for his championship hopes.
“I was really upset at the beginning getting pushed back,” said Herta. I was not happy at all about it and it was kind of hard to keep pushing because I need Pato to have bad races and I need to have good races, same as Santi.
“It was really upsetting to see that chance, I thought the chance was gone and was like ‘oh man, this sucks’ but I just got my head down and got by Pato really quickly and I knew I had really good pace then so just kept pushing on.”
Urrutia won the second race of the year in St. Petersburg but his tires were no match for Herta’s advances.
“I took advantage of what happened in Turn 1 and after Lap 12 I started struggling with the tires,” said Urrutia. I was all over the place with understeer and oversteer and traction problems.”
Telitz’s third place finish was his best finish of the year. After not completing a lap in the first three races of the season and finishing fourth at the second race in Barber Motorsports Park, its as a good result for the Wisconsin native.
“We’re making our slow comeback,” said Telitz. “Obviously we’re shooting for wins because we had so many terrible races at the start, so finishing third is a good way to get the ball rolling. We’ve improved now, fourth at Barber, third here so if we keep doing that every race it’s going to be better.”
Indy Lights races again on Saturday at 1:15 p.m. ET.