Sunday was race day No. 2 for the NTT IndyCar Series at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, as series officials were looking to wrap up their doubleheader weekend.
Looking to stop Will Power’s weekend dominance, was not only the field but Andretti-Harding Steinbrenner Racing’s Colton Herta who claimed pole position earlier in the day. Herta had the best car out on the race track with Power nowhere to be seen. The only threat that Herta had to worry about was his team-mate, Alexander Rossi. Though, Herta and the No. 88 team played their strategy perfect and won for the first time in the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season.
“I’m so happy,” Herta said about the victory. “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. Honda-Andretti 1-2-3, so happy to be powered by Honda, too.” (About start with Ferrucci): “He was on the outside, and I got halfway in front of him, so that was my corner at that point. I tried to leave him as much room as I could, and he just wanted to stick on the outside. So, I had to push him off.” (About winning again from pole): “We just need to be finishing on the podium every weekend. It seems like we’re only on the podium when we win. If we can fill all of those other slots with seconds or thirds, I’ll be a very happy man.”
When the 75-lap event got underway, chaos was seen already on the first lap going into Turn(s) 4 and 5. The No. 18 of Santino Ferrucci had gone off course, could not hang onto his car, and came back up the track. By doing so, Ferrucci took out two cars in the process, the No. 10 of Felix Rosenqvist and the No. 55 of Alex Palou. Rosenqvist ended up making contact with the tire barriers, which caused the Chip Ganassi Racing driver to get stuck in the grass due to overnight rain showers.
With Rosenqvist stuck in the grass and unable to get his car fired up, this left series official no choice but to fly the yellow for a full-course caution. By causing the incident, IndyCar penalized Ferrucci for avoidable contact and was sent to the rear of the field for the next restart. Unfortunately for Rosenqvist, and Palou, both drivers would be out of the race early and credited 22nd, 23rd respectively despite their best efforts to return to the racing surface.
After the Lap 1 incident and the restart on Lap 4, Herta kept his pace over second-place Scott Dixon by 1.3 seconds, the largest gap since the restart. However, Herta’s lead would be short-lived with the No. 14 of Dalton Kellett going off track in Turn 1 on Lap 14. Expecting a yellow, most of the race leaders pitted except Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato and Marco Andretti who assumed the top two spots once the caution eventually flew on Lap 15 for Kellett’s stalled car.
When the race resumed on Lap 18, Sato led Andretti by 1.8 seconds with Herta following closely behind in the third position. A few laps later after the restart, Scott Dixon’s No. 9 Honda went off track in Turn 1 while battling with Ryan Hunter-Reay. Despite the spin, no yellow was flown as Dixon was able to re-fire his car.
Cars going off track would continue to be the norm, as third-place Marco Andretti spun around in the same area as Dixon did (Turn 1). The incident left, Sato and Herta to battle it out among themselves with Sato checking out by 5.1 seconds. Though, Sato eventually had to pit for fresh tires at Lap 32, which allowed Herta to take the lead of the race as Rossi followed suit in second.
After taking the lead, the final round of green-flag pit stops would occur just 12 laps later, when Rossi was the first pit from second on Lap 45. Herta made his final stop on Lap 46, one lap after Rossi made his.
During the pit cycle, the No. 15 of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal stayed out just a little longer than Rossi and Herta, as Rahal was trying to come out the new leader of the race after making his pit stop on Lap 47. Unfortunately for Rahal, the strategy didn’t work to the team’s liking, and Herta re-claimed the race lead on Lap 50.
Like Saturday’s race, once the leader had his race pace, and a clear track in front of him, they could easily check out. Herta was doing the same and had the lead up to 2.3 seconds over Rossi. Though in the remaining laps, tire wear started to become a concern, which saw Herta start managing his tires. By managing his tires, Rossi was able to cut the lead down to 1.1 seconds as he was going all out at the end.
Regardless of Rossi’s efforts at the end, Colton Herta was able to fend off his team-mate Rossi for his third career NTT IndyCar Series victory.
With Herta, Rossi, and Hunter-Reay making it a clean podium sweep, this was the first time since 2005 of St. Petersburg where Andretti’s team claimed the podium positions. On that specific day, it was then the late Dan Wheldon grabbing the win with former team drivers Tony Kanaan, Dario Franchitti, and Bryan Herta (Colton’s dad) taking the top four spots in the running order.
Even though Rossi was unable to get the victory, Mid-Ohio marked the first time in two months since Road America he was able to claim podium finishes.
“I’m just so happy for Andretti Autosport and Michael (Andretti),” Rossi said. “It’s been a terrible year for us, kind of globally. So, to do this … hat’s off to Colton (Herta) and the 88 guys to get the win. But then just to sweep the podium, I’ve heard it’s the first time (for the team) since 2005. It’s very cool for us. The championship went away from us pretty early on, so we’re just focusing on race wins at this point and just trying to build a good foundation for next year, and I think we’re doing that right now. This is a step in the right direction.”
There two cautions for six laps and five lead changes among four different leaders.
Colton Herta led three times for 57 laps en route to victory.
In terms of championship points standings, Scott Dixon overall lost 24 total points exiting Mid-Ohio. The New Zelander came into this weekend’s race with a 96 point buffer over second-place Josef Newgarden. However, with an uncharacteristic weekend, Newgarden closed the gap and now trails by 72 points.
Official Results following Race No. 2 at Mid-Ohio.
- Colton Herta, led 57 laps
- Alexander Rossi
- Ryan Hunter-Reay
- Graham Rahal, led one lap
- Marcus Ericsson, led one lap
- Simon Pagenaud
- Will Power
- Josef Newgarden
- Pato O’Ward
- Scott Dixon
- Rinus VeeKay
- Jack Harvey
- Max Chilton
- Santino Ferrucci
- Oliver Askew
- Conor Daly
- Zach Veach
- Takuma Sato, led 16 laps
- Charlie Kimball
- Marco Andretti, 1 lap down
- Dalton Kellett, 4 laps down
- Felix Rosenqvist, OUT, Crash
- Alex Palou, OUT, Crash
Up Next: The NTT IndyCar Series will take a few weeks off, before returning on-track for another doubleheader weekend at the Indianapolis Grand Prix Road Course, with the first race scheduled for Friday October 2nd at 3:50 p.m./ET live on NBCSN and IndyCar Radio.