Herta schools Rossi at Mid-Ohio

Starting from pole, youngster Colton Herta led the first Andretti Autosport 1-2-3- in 15 years by winning the 2nd half of the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sunday. It was Herta’s 3rd career IndyCar win.

Herta schooled his teammate in the #27 NAPA Honda – Alexander Rossi – who had nothing for his less experienced teammate. Herta led 57 of 75 laps while Rossi led none. Rossi had closed on Herta but was never able to mount a passing attempt as Herta controlled the gap from the lead and winning by 1.3826s.

Alexander Rossi gets schooled by young Herta at Mid-Ohio

Ryan Hunter-Reay brought the #28 DHL Andretti Honda home in third place 2.4965 seconds behind Herta.

Graham Rahal and Marcus Ericsson rounded out the top-5 to give race sponsor Honda a 1-2-3-4-5 finish after getting beaten by two Penske Chevy’s on Saturday.

“I’m so happy,” Herta said. “We’ve been knocking on the door almost every weekend. We’ve had the pace. But for some reason or another, one thing has gone wrong or this thing has gone wrong. We finally put everything together. We got the pole this morning, had a stellar car. Everybody on the Capstone Turbine crew gave me an incredible car.”

After finishing 1-2 on Saturday the Penske team faltered on Sunday with Will Power and Josef Newgarden 7th and 8th.  Power went off course in qualifying in the wet but recovered for 7th.

Point leader Scott Dixon spun in Turn 1 on the hard Firestones and had to settle for 10th – passing Rinus Veekay on the last lap to gain another point.

Heading into Sunday’s race, Andretti Autosport had just two podium finishes this season, third-place results by Rossi at Road America-2 and in Saturday’s Race 1 at Mid-Ohio. Andretti Autosport’s last win came when Rossi dominated the field at Road America in June 2019.

The last time Andretti Autosport swept the podium was in 2005 at St. Petersburg when Dan Wheldon scored the win and fellow Andretti teammates Tony Kanaan, Dario Franchitti and Bryan Herta – Colton Herta’s father – followed to sweep the top four finishing positions for what was known as Andretti Green Racing at the time.
“It’s so huge, so huge,” team owner Michael Andretti said. “Thank God we came here to Mid-Ohio. We were a little worried that we weren’t going to be able to get here, but Kevin Savoree and those guys did a great job getting this race on, and it paid off for us, man. One-two-three. The way things have been going for us this year, this is huge for us, the whole team.”

Herta led 57 of 75 laps from the pole after winning the NTT P1 Award in a thrilling qualifying session Sunday morning.

The race also got off to an action-packed start as Herta and second-place starter Santino Ferrucci went side-by-side into Turn 4 of the 13-turn, 2.258-mile circuit. Ferrucci lost control of his No. 18 SealMaster Honda and went into the grass. Ferrucci then returned to the track, where he collided with Dale Coyne Racing teammate Alex Palou in the No. 55 Guaranteed Rate Honda and Felix Rosenqvist in the No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

Ferrucci was assessed a penalty for avoidable contact, and Palou and Rosenqvist were eliminated from the race. Ferrucci finished 14th, while Rosenqvist and Palou finished 22nd and 23rd, respectively.

The action continued on Lap 22 when points leader Scott Dixon made a costly mistake in Turn 1 that led to a disappointing 10th-place finish after starting third.
Dixon powered through the fastest corner on the track and lost control of his No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, spinning on corner exit. Dixon didn’t hit anything, but the track remained under green flag conditions, and Dixon fell to 20th position.

“I think we kind of tried to have the tires a little better for longer in the run, so I think our cold pressures were really low,” Dixon said. “We really struggled on the restarts, especially the initial start and that restart. Plus, everybody behind me had reds on. So, I got aggressive, hit the overtake on the exit of (Turn) 1, and just way too much Honda power there and spun the tires and spun the car.

“So, it totally caught me off guard. Total rookie mistake. I’m so bummed for the team. It’s just such a stupid mistake I shouldn’t have made. Obviously, the car was fast. We were able to fight our way through the pack. It should have been an easy points day.”

Five-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Dixon spent the rest of the race trying to rebound, running as high as fourth while on an alternate pit strategy. Dixon was forced to give up his track position on Lap 59 when he pitted for the final time. With the freshest tires in the field, he rallied for his second 10th-place finish of the weekend.

The challenging day did no favors to Dixon’s standing in the championship. His lead over Josef Newgarden shrunk to 72 points, continuing a downward slide for Dixon in the last three races.

Since his most recent win in the first race of the doubleheader at World Wide Technology Raceway on Aug. 29, Dixon has lost 45 points to Newgarden.

Newgarden, the defending NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion, had a quiet day, finishing eighth in the No. 1 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet. He gained four points on Dixon after entering the day down 76 points.

“The easiest way (to win the championship) is going to try to win Race 1 at the Indy road course and then do the same in Race 2,” Dixon said. “It would be nice to go to St. Pete without having to worry about it. But the NTT INDYCAR SERIES is so tight right now. The competition is super tough. Trying to rebound off days like this is super tough.”

There are three races left in the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. The next event is the INDYCAR Harvest GP doubleheader Oct. 2-3 on the 2.439-mile IMS road course. The season ends with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, Oct. 25.

More to follow……

Race Results

Pos No Name Laps Diff Gap Led ST Engine Points Team
1 88 Colton Herta 75 0.0000 0.0000 57 1 Honda 327 Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport
2 27 Alexander Rossi 75 1.3826 1.3826 0 10 Honda 230 Andretti Autosport
3 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay 75 2.4965 1.1139 0 8 Honda 260 Andretti Autosport
4 15 Graham Rahal 75 3.0853 0.5888 1 12 Honda 301 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
5 8 Marcus Ericsson 75 9.9175 6.8322 1 15 Honda 230 Chip Ganassi Racing
6 22 Simon Pagenaud 75 14.1918 4.2743 0 6 Chevy 277 Team Penske
7 12 Will Power 75 15.3292 1.1374 0 17 Chevy 306 Team Penske
8 1 Josef Newgarden 75 17.2532 1.9240 0 9 Chevy 384 Team Penske
9 5 Pato O’Ward 75 22.9474 5.6942 0 21 Chevy 338 Arrow McLaren SP
10 9 Scott Dixon 75 30.5093 0 3 Honda 456 Chip Ganassi Racing
11 21 Rinus VeeKay 75 31.7181 1.2088 0 11 Chevy 224 Ed Carpenter Racing
12 60 Jack Harvey 75 36.7526 5.0345 0 19 Honda 225 Meyer Shank Racing
13 59 Max Chilton 75 37.6521 0.8995 0 18 Chevy 99 Carlin
14 18 Santino Ferrucci 75 46.5834 8.9313 0 2 Honda 249 Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan
15 7 Oliver Askew 75 47.3665 0.7831 0 14 Chevy 181 Arrow McLaren SP
16 20 Conor Daly 74 59.0957 12.0289 0 16 Chevy 196 Ed Carpenter Racing
17 26 Zach Veach 74 63.2626 4.1669 0 13 Honda 166 Andretti Autosport
18 30 Takuma Sato 74 65.0296 1.7670 16 22 Honda 300 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
19 4 Charlie Kimball 74 66.6709 1.6413 0 23 Chevy 170 AJ Foyt Enterprises
20 98 Marco Andretti 74 1 LAPS 31.6872 0 7 Honda 153 Andretti Herta with Marco & Curb-Agajanian
21 14 Dalton Kellett 71 4 LAPS 2 LAPS 0 20 Chevy 56 AJ Foyt Enterprises
22 10 Felix Rosenqvist 4 35 LAPS 33 LAPS 0 5 Honda 244 Chip Ganassi Racing
23 55 Alex Palou 2 19.2161 2.2495 0 4 Honda 185 Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh


Race Statistics
Winner’s average speed:
107.763 mph
Time of Race: 1:34:17.3968
Margin of victory: 1.3826 seconds
Cautions: 2 for 6 laps
Lead changes: 5 among 4 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Herta 1 – 15
Sato 16 – 31
Herta 32 – 45
Rahal 46
Ericsson 47
Herta 48 – 75

NTT INDYCAR SERIES point standings: Dixon 456, Newgarden 384, O’Ward 338, Herta 327, Power 306, Rahal 301, Sato 300, Pagenaud 277, Hunter-Reay 260, Ferrucci 249.