Race Weekend Central

‘It’s Insane to Me’ – Colton Herta Frustrated by Lack of Penalties at Road America

ELKHART LAKE, Wisc.– After two spins within the first few laps of Sunday’s XPEL Grand Prix at Road America, Colton Herta should have been happy finishing sixth in the seventh race of the 2024 IndyCar Series season.

Instead the California native was frustrated, because after starting in second place, Herta felt like he had the car to win the race and race control called no penalties against either of the two drivers that hit him and eventually dropped him to last place for a couple of laps.

“I think I’ll have to bring a gun and shoot somebody in the head,” Herta told Frontstretch in frustration on pit road after the race. “And that’s the only way I can get a penalty [called] in this series. So like, it’s ridiculous. It’s insane to me.”

As polesitter Linus Lundqvist exited turn 1 at the start of the 55-lap race, his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Marcus Armstrong hit the No. 8 Honda from behind. Both drivers spun at the exit of the corner.

Herta immediately slowed down to avoid the spinning cars and Josef Newgarden hit the rear of his car. The No. 26 Andretti Global Honda spun and subsequently stalled in the middle of the track, requiring assistance from the safety team.

“I remember just everyone checking up on the exit of the corner,” Newgarden said in the post-race press conference after finishing second. “I sort of center-punched Colton. I hate that most likely affected his race. I’m sure he went spinning because of it. I don’t know why everyone checked up on the exit. I didn’t see that. I saw people going on the outside. I’m sure something was going on in front of him. It must have been.”

Armstrong received a penalty for the contact with Lundqvist but Newgarden received no such penalty for his lap first-lap collision with Herta.

After the lap three restart, Herta was on Lundqvist’s outside as the pair went to turn 3. They had contact that sent Herta off track, spinning in the grass outside the corner.

“Josef [Newgarden] just flat out hit me in the rear, no penalty, which is amazing to me how that’s not a penalty,” Herta told Frontstretch. “And then Lundqvist sideswiped me. I gave him a car-and-a-half on the inside into turn 3 on the next restart and he ran out of talent and just took me out with him. And again, no penalty.”

See also
Will Power Uses Overcut to Win Road America & Snap Winless Streak

Race control called no penalty on Lundqvist and Herta’s accident, saying on the scanner audio that there was inconclusive evidence for a penalty. Lundqvist saw the incident differently than Herta.

“For me that was more of a racing incident,” Lundqvist said. “But again, I guess I have to look at it again and see if we need to have a chat.”

Herta pitted under the caution for the contact between Kyffin Simpson and Christian Rasmussen that sent Simpson off into the turn 14 tire barrier at the end of his sixth lap. That early stop gave Herta several additional laps of fuel in hand over his competitors and so he ran hard the entire race while many other drivers were saving fuel.

After leading four laps late in the race, Herta made his final pit stop at the end of lap 48, leaving the pits in sixth place. The two-time Road America polesitter was able to maintain his position ahead of Romain Grosjean in seventh by just under a second.

Instead of being proud of his comeback, frustration was the only way to describe Herta’s state of mind after finishing over 28 seconds behind race winner Will Power.

“I’m just not happy with that,” Herta said. “It’s three weekends in a row where we suck in the end because of stupid, stupid stuff and three weekends in a row where we had [a] really good chance to win at all three events and we are leaving with, I mean, at least we have something today, but like, I’m not happy about it.”

About the author

Christopher DeHarde has covered IndyCar racing and the Road to Indy for various outlets since 2014. In addition to open wheel racing, DeHarde has also covered IMSA and various short track racing events around Indiana. Originally from New Orleans, DeHarde moved to the Indianapolis area in 2017 to further pursue a career as a motorsports writer.

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Bob

Tired if hearing from this overrated entitled crybaby. Penalties? How about just hire real racers instead of the @ss clowns currently “competing ” in the series. There are maybe 5 talented racers the rest belong in demolition derby events at county fairs at best.

Jeremy

I get Herta’s frustration, but there’s almost no way race control will call an “avoidable contact” penalty when the field is checking up for a wreck. Things just happen too fast in that scenario for everyone to clear the chaos.

This is two weeks in a row where I wish these guys would clean up their act and quit crashing into each other so much. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy demolition derbies – when that’s what I’m sitting down to watch. When I tune in to a race I want to see a race. These guys are better than this!

Perhaps the “avoidable contact” penalties need to be more harsh. For example, if the avoidable contact results in a competitor being out of the race, damaged, or losing significant track position, the penalty is for the offending car/driver to be placed in the finishing position right behind the car they hit. Basically, if you wreck someone and significantly impact their race, your race is impacted the same as theirs. If they recover and finish 10th, you will be awarded no better than 11th (even if you were to go on and “win” the race). Or, if they finish dead last (dnf), they are bumped up one position and you take the last spot. Again, regardless of how the rest of your race goes. Might put an end to some of this tomfoolery.

gbvette62

Can somebody please explain the attraction the media has to Herta, because I don’t get it. He’s in his 6th full time season in IndyCar, and has mostly driven top tier equipment, yet so far he’s only managed to win 5 races. Watching the broadcasts and reading the racing sites, you’d think he was winning 5-6 races a year and competing for his 3rd or 4th title. It wasn’t that long ago people were calling him the next American F1 champion. He had success in F1600 and other feeder series a decade ago, but he’s never really repeated that success as he’s graduated to higher levels of racing. Talent wise, Herta’s no where near Dixon, Power, O’Ward, McLaughlin, Palou, Newgarden and probably a few others in IndyCar.

I can’t say that Herta doesn’t have a argument to make about the second spin involving Lundqvist, but not with the bump he got from Newgarden. Getting through the first turn of the first lap of any race is usually a crap shoot.

Last edited 18 hours ago by gbvette62
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