By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
After going a whole day without any true drama yesterday, Thursday’s practice session for the 105th Indianapolis 500 quickly did.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing were doing a photo op with its drivers Takuma Sato, Graham Rahal and Santino Ferrucci. However, drivers Colton Herta, Scott McLaughlin and Simona De Silvestro didn’t realize what was going on until it was a bit too late. What transpired was Herta was going at full speed compared to everyone else.
Consequently, Herta barely avoided tangling with McLaughlin, but ended up scraping the Turn 4 wall. It brought out an immediate caution at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Compared to the two, De Silvestro escaped without incident.
Following the incident, Herta talked with McLaughlin on pit road as to what in the world happened. The Kiwi racer didn’t knew what was going on, but assured there was no animosity between them.
Herta was heated when he shared his thoughts to IMS Radio’s Michael Young, saying that whoever set up the photo up for Rahal’s squad should be admonished.
“It turns out going three-wide for a photo op during practice isn’t ideal. They’re going 100 mph on the front straight while guys are going 220,” said Herta. “Whoever’s in charge of that at Rahal is a complete idiot, and is just risking everybody’s lives out here. It’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.
“Luckily, we got away with it easy. The car should be okay. I just pancaked the wall lightly and glad I didn’t take out Scott. I’m not mad with him, but those Rahal guys ruined everything!”
Herta added that he’s glad that McLaughlin’s spotter was able to warn his driver about him driving at full speed.
“I saw a little bit of a lane and I was hoping Scott’s spotter would tell him. Luckily, he did at the last second,” said Herta. “It was enough for me to scrape by against the wall and bobble between him. The most important thing that our main car is okay and we’ll work on that.”
RLL Racing aren’t the first team this week that’s done a photo op to kickstart practice. In fact, Team Penske (McLaughlin’s team) did a four-wide salute to inaugurate this year’s Month of May. No drama escalated in that exchange.
Less than an hour later, McLaughlin’s No. 3 Pennzoil Chevrolet would return to the 2.5-mile circuit. Herta’s No. 26 Gainbridge Honda later return for more on-track action. Thus, continuing on with their afternoons at Indianapolis.
UPDATE: Herta bounced back tremendously by going 10th fastest to McLaughlin’s 23rd. INDYCAR decided to reprimand RLL Racing for their actions by not allowing any of its car on track for the opening 30 minutes of Fast Friday.