By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Colton Herta is back on an NTT IndyCar Series podium. Hard to imagine the man who dominated St. Petersburg wouldn’t score another top-three until Sunday’s REV Group Grand Prix at Road America, finishing second.
“It finally happened,” said Herta. “I’ve been struggling to get on the podium when I’m not winning, so it feels nice to finally get one, or my second one in my career.
“Team did an amazing job. We seemed to lack a little bit of pace to Alex (Palou) and Josef (Newgarden). They seemed to be the guys to beat.”
Knowing that Palou and Newgarden were going to be the class of the field, Herta had to earn that result. Didn’t matter if he started second. Something he knew after Saturday’s qualifying session.
“You could see it in qualifying with how close the gaps are even though it’s a four mile long track, which is really impressive,” Herta explained.
“It’s a good little mix of racing, especially when you’ve got guys on different downforce settings that struggle through the back and were really quick on the straights. It can make it very difficult to pass but also very fun to pass when you get it done.”
That in mind, Herta’s No. 26 Gainbridge Honda did struggle at the beginning. It required some tighter car adjustments in order to find group around Elkhart Lake.
Certainly helped as highlighted with a daring pass on Jack Harvey for seventh on Lap 27. Herta threaded the needle as the lapped car of Jimmie Johnson was trying to let them battle in Turn 1.
Fortunately, nobody faced consequential outcomes. However, Herta still didn’t have enough to fight for a second win.
“I think we kind of maximized what we could have done,” said Herta. “Today for sure wasn’t a day that we were going to win on pace.”
The podium moves Herta from ninth to seventh in points going into Mid-Ohio July 4 (Noon ET on NBC). He so happens to be the defending race winner there as well.
Despite trailing Palou by 107 points, momentum is slowly showing in Herta’s camp to where maybe they’re not quite out of it yet.
“We’re working on it. It’s getting better. This will be a big confidence boost for everybody,” said Herta. “Fourth place last week in Detroit and then come here and get a second, we’re definitely on the ball. We’ve just got to keep doing it.”