Photo: Chris Jones/INDYCAR

Herta and VeeKay Involved in Frightening Crash at Iowa

By Luis Torres, Staff Writer

A no-go restart turned catastrophic for both Rinus VeeKay and Colton Herta, who were involved in a scary Lap 157 crash during Friday’s Iowa INDYCAR 250 at Iowa Speedway.

INDYCAR Race Control had waved off the restart just before Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward could take off as the race leader. Further behind is where things got chaotic as drivers began bunching up at the entrance in Turn 4.

VeeKay had to check up to avoid eventual race winner Simon Pagenaud. This caused an accordion effect for Herta, who wasn’t alerted by his Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport team that it was waved off.

As a result, Herta had little time to react and ran into the back of VeeKay’s No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet, launching his No. 88 Capstone Turbine Honda up in the air where the back end hit some of the fence and SAFER Barriers until it his car landed on the ground.

Debris scattered the front stretch with Marcus Ericsson running over the pieces from Herta’s rear wing. Ericsson made a pit stop and went on to continue his night at Iowa, finishing ninth.

The incident extended the caution period, but the most important thing was both Herta and VeeKay being checked and released from the infield care center.

For Herta, it’s another DNF in his oval career as Friday marked his first retirement since Pocono last August, which was also due to a crash.

As a result, the man who came to Iowa second in points will now enter tomorrow’s race fifth in the championship trail. Not only that, Herta’s shot of going 5-for-5 in the top-10 category was gone, but it was definitely the least of his concerns when describing his accident.

“It happened so fast that I wasn’t sure what was going on, but I’m happy to report that I’m fine. No injuries and I feel fit to drive tomorrow,” said Herta.

“I wasn’t told the restart was called off. I was told green and wasn’t going to go by the lights when I was told green. That’s what happened and I guess everybody got the message. So happy to be okay I’m glad I didn’t get hit in the head. Definitely went over the top of Rinus, glad he seems okay in there. He’s talking and normal,” Herta added.

“Disappointing day for the Capstone Honda. We were on a cool strategy to be in contention for the win. Hopefully, we can get the car out there and get ready to go for tomorrow.”

As for VeeKay, his Iowa exit marks his first retirement since Texas and will also take a hit in the battle for Rookie of the Year, trailing Alex Palou by 17 points.

“It really sucks. We were having an amazing race. This could’ve been a podium or maybe even a win if it went our way. Really a bummer,” said VeeKay. “I was having an excellent time and smiling every lap. It sucks, but we got tomorrow. We have an amazing car to go for a podium or a win tomorrow, so I’m really confident.”

They’ll have another chance to fight as the second Iowa INDYCAR 250 will wrap-up the month of non-stop racing action in a span of 15 days.

Live coverage begins Saturday at 8:30 p.m. EST on NBCSN. Josef Newgarden will lead the field to the green flag. Herta and VeeKay are scheduled to roll off fifth and 15th respectively.

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From the Pacific Northwest, Luis is a University of Idaho graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Broadcasting and Digital Media. Ever since watching the 2003 Daytona 500, being involved in auto racing is all he's ever dreamed of doing. He's also covered Idaho Athletics and high school football as both a writer and videographer. Additionally, he spent 2017 writing several racing columns as an independent journalist. Luis does video and photography, and is a fan of Seattle sports, a music critic and a motivator who wants to impact people's lives.