Indiana Daily Student

Colton Herta wins slippery GMR Grand Prix in Indianapolis

Colton Herta tests his No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda IndyCar at a preseason test Feb. 14, 2022, at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Florida. Herta won the GMR Grand Prix on Saturday in Indianapolis.
Colton Herta tests his No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda IndyCar at a preseason test Feb. 14, 2022, at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Florida. Herta won the GMR Grand Prix on Saturday in Indianapolis.

Andretti Autosport driver Colton Herta won the GMR Grand Prix on Saturday in Indianapolis amidst rainy conditions including “rooster tails” –– water that spits out from the back of an IndyCar. It’s the 22-year-old’s first win of the season.

Despite the dangerous conditions, the race was completed without having to come to a full stop. However, the race switched from a lapped race to a timed race with 20 minutes left.

Friday’s qualifying

Before the rain and caution flags of Saturday’s race, Team Penske driver Will Power won the pole — the 64th of his career. 

Power currently has the second-most poles in IndyCar history, just behind Mario Andretti, who has 67.

Race conditions

The race was set to begin at 3:30 p.m. but was moved up to 3:07 p.m. due to rain. The start time was moved again, though, and the race began at approximately 3:46 P.M. due to more weather precautions. 

Due to the rainy conditions, the race was declared a “wet start,” meaning drivers had to start on Firestone rain tires. In normal circumstances for IndyCar races, it’s required that drivers use both alternate and primary tires during the race, but that was not enforced on Saturday.

Caution chaos

In total, the race saw eight cautions. Here’s a rundown of each one:

Lap 6: The first caution flag came out on lap six when Chip Ganassi Racing driver Alex Palou, who led the NTT IndyCar Championship before today, spun into the grass in turn nine. He managed to get out of the grass but stalled in the middle of the track.

Lap 15: The next full-course caution came when Team Penske driver Josef Newgarden, who won on the oval at Texas and street circuit at Long Beach this year, made contact with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver Jack Harvey and Andretti Autosport driver Alexander Rossi.

Lap 21: Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport driver Devlin DeFrancesco hit the rear right tire of Ed Carpenter Racing driver Rinus VeeKay, causing VeeKay to spin out. He managed to get his car into the pits, however, under his own power. DeFrancesco damaged the nose of his car in the accident.

Lap 36: A caution came out for A.J. Foyt Enterprises driver Dalton Kellett, who slid into the grass and stopped near the fence. Additionally, Chip Ganassi Racing driver Scott Dixon ran out of gas and had to be pushed to his pit box.

Lap 42: Arrow McLaren SP teammates Felix Rosenqvist and Pato O’Ward made contact in turn one, creating a need to bring out another caution. 

Lap 57: Chip Ganassi Racing driver Jimmie Johnson caused the yellow flag to come out after losing control of the car in cloudy, rainy conditions while in turn nine.

17 minutes remaining: Team Penske driver Scott McLaughlin spun in both turns three and four and brought about another full-course caution.

One minute and 45 seconds remaining: Arrow McLaren SP driver Juan Pablo Montoya came to a halt in a patch of grass. The race ended under yellow.

Notable tire swaps

Lap 42: Rossi had started to make his way through the field and pitted for rain tires, but the switch didn’t give the results Rossi wanted.

Lap 60: Herta switched to a pair of new slicks.

Lap 62: Under caution, Herta switched to rain tires for the rest of the race.

Driver highlights

Scott Dixon: The six-time series champion was one lap down for a while, but on lap 46, he caught up and finished tenth.

Simon Pagenaud: The Indy 500 winner and Meyer Shank Racing driver started in 20th and drove to second, making the GMR Grand Prix his best finish of the season.

Will Power: The pole-sitter didn’t win, but he now leads the championship race with 138 points.

Looking forward

The next race is the 106th Indianapolis 500 on May 29.

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