Paddock Buzz: Herta’s Qualifying Crunch Costly – INDYCAR

August 7, 2022 by No Comments

Colton Herta again found himself in the spotlight in Nashville, only this time his contact with a tire barrier hurt more than his chances to win Sunday’s Big Machine Music City Grand Prix.

Herta’s incident late in the first group of Saturday’s qualifying session brought out the red flag, and there wasn’t enough time to restart the session. Several drivers, including Andretti Autosport teammate Alexander Rossi, were on their best laps and didn’t get to finish them. Thus, they also did not advance.

Rossi clearly was annoyed, walking back to the transporter with his helmet on. All Herta could do was apologize.

“That was just (being) a little too ambitious for what the conditions were,” Herta said. “I think after it rained a lot (during the afternoon) that (tire) grip kind of fell away. Just trying to find the right braking point and overdid it.

“It’s hard when you put on these (alternate tires) and they’re (optimal) for one or two laps – you really have to get after it. I apologize to my team, especially to (Michael) Andretti because I probably (hurt) Rossi there pretty good and probably a few other guys.

“I don’t try and do that on purpose, and it’s really an honest mistake. I feel bad for everybody involved.”

The session-ending red flag led to mixed-up results, with several top drivers failing to advance to the second round. Simon Pagenaud (No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda of Meyer Shank Racing), Felix Rosenqvist (No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet) and Rossi (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS/AutoNation Honda) are the most noteworthy. They will start Sunday’s 80-lap race (3 p.m. ET, NBC and the INDYCAR Radio Network) in positions 13th, 15th and 17th, respectively.

Herta will start 21st. Last year, his contact with the tire barrier came in Turn 9 while chasing race leader Marcus Ericsson with six laps to go. Ericsson went on to claim his second career series victory.

Harvey, Kellett Benefit from Caution

The red flag for Herta’s mistake was the break a few drivers in that group needed, including Jack Harvey (No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda of Rahal Letterman Lanigan) and Dalton Kellett (No. 4 K-LINE/AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet).

Harvey reached the top 12 for the third time in the past four races. He will line up 11th.

Kellett earned the highest starting position of his NTT INDYCAR SERIES career in 12th. His previous best was 14th in this year’s season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

“We made the right call (using alternate tires on consecutive runs) for that Q1 session and managed to transfer, (and) that was one of our goals for the year and really happy we could make it happen here in Nashville,” Kellett said. “INDYCAR races are 100 percent (driven by good) track position. To be able to start further up on the grid is really a big benefit for us.

“This is probably going to be a tough race; we’re going to have to put our best foot forward tomorrow. Looking forward to putting on a good show.”

Harvey’s performance was part of a team-wide effort for a RLL organization that has quietly produced better form in recent races. All three team cars qualified in the top 12, with rookie Christian Lundgaard earning the third starting position despite drawing a drive-through pit road penalty for causing a local yellow.

Lundgaard has …….



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