Herta had Houston crowd on feet Bryan Herta (shown right in 2nd behind Porsche and ahead of the Audi) had the large crowd at the Lone Star Grand Prix on its feet Saturday evening in a wild finish on the JAGFlo Speedway road course around the famed Astrodome and beautiful Reliant Stadium.
The California driver just missed taking the No. 26 XM Satellite Radio Acura ARX-01a sports car to the overall victory on the tight 1.7-mile, 10-turn track many drivers called one of the roughest circuits on the 12-race American Le Mans Series tour. Herta came from 27 seconds behind to close within .450 seconds at the checkered flag and take second overall to the No. 7 Penske Porsche driven by Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas.
Marino Franchitti, Dario's younger brother, started the race in the fifth position in No. 26 Acura and fought through some heavy traffic to hand over the Andretti Green Racing machine to Herta on lap 58. Herta quickly diced his way to the front of the field and raced wheel-to-wheel with both Penske Porsches and the No. 1 Audi driven by Rinaldo Capelli.
The only full-course yellow period came out on lap 111 and Herta drove into the pits for a fuel stop only. Unlike the Porsche and Audi teams, Herta's crew did not add four new Michelin tires. At the restart, Herta drove in and out of traffic to close from a 3.7-second advantage by Bernhard to less than a second. The Houston crowd was standing and yelling for Herta to take the lead.
With one lap remaining in the two-hour, 45-minute race, Herta took his car to the rear of the No. 7 Porsche driven by Bernhard, but he had to settle for the runner-up spot at the checkered flag.
Pole sitter David Brabham was impressive in the No. 9 Highcroft Acura ARX-01a and raced with the leaders in the first hour of competition. A strange incident on the driver exchange between Brabham and Stefan Johansson knocked out the fuel system for over a minute and the team had to settle for fifth overall, fourth in the LMP2 class.
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