By Christian Koelle, Staff Writer
It really shouldn’t have been a fifth-place finish on Sunday for Colton Herta.
The finishing results clearly didn’t show just what Herta and the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda went through, it did, however, show how resilient they were despite things going south during the day multiple times.
Sunday’s race was clearly no walk in the park for Herta like it was in 2021 at Nashville before he missed a corner and hit the wall. The setbacks kept coming for Herta and his organization but as with the finishing position, they overcame a mountain in an area where the nearest mountains are 242 miles east (Great Smoky Mountains).
“I really have to give it to the guys, they did a great job in the pits,” said Herta. “In both of our pit stops, we gained so many spots. I think on that second one we probably gained two or three spots that put us up into about eighth. We were able to battle and finish top five from there, so congrats. The Gainbridge Honda was really fast today and I’m happy with how we came back, not only from starting at the back but also being a lap down. That doesn’t happen too often, so I’m really happy.”
Herta’s weekend started off on the wrong foot as the defending Nashville NTT Data P1 Pole Award winner found the wall during qualifying axing his qualifying effort and putting him starting 23rd, the second worst starting spot for the Valencia, California native.
The beginning of the race was looking disastrous early as the No. 4 of Dalton Kellet pushed Herta wide and the No. 26 made contact with the wall on lap three. He would bring the car down pit road for a nose change and with that, a renewed Herta re-entered the race.
From that point forward, Herta made 20 on-track passes and then gained three spots on his final pit stop. Moving from 23rd to fifth netted him the biggest mover award as well by gaining 18 spots. By finishing fifth, Herta earned his fifth top-five finish of the 2022 campaign and first since Toronto where he finished second.
He remains 10th in NTT Data IndyCar Series points but earned some points back after a gearbox failure at Indianapolis Road Course. Herta has a 135-point deficit off of points leader Will Power. He’s just ten points behind ninth-place Felix Rosenqvist.