25 Apr 2021
Colton Herta got his IndyCar season back on track by dominating the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Andretti Autosport driver Herta, who was caught up in the lap one incident triggered by Josef Newgarden at Barber Motorsports Park last week, started the 100-lap race from pole and never surrendered the lead, save for during the pit stop cycles.
A late caution could’ve derailed his push for victory, with it erasing a 10-second lead and putting Newgarden – who had saved his faster, softer ‘red’ compound tyres until his final stint – right on his tail.
Herta, however, had saved his Push-to-Pass to use defensively late on and the Penske man couldn’t find a way past.
Newgarden’s second place finish ended all hopes for a third-straight St. Petersburg win, while Herta’s was his first on a street course of any kind, and the fourth race victory of his career, tying him with his father Bryan Herta.
Newgarden’s team-mate Simon Pagenaud claimed third, ahead of Harvey who slipped down the field after being slowed by a long first stint on the fast-wearing ‘red’ tyres. Harvey’s result was the second-best of his career, and his first top-five since the 2019 Indy GP.
Completing the top five was Scott Dixon, who headed Takuma Sato. Two-time Indy 500 winner Sato started way back in 15th, but carved his way through the fight in a typically aggressive fashion.
Seventh place finisher Marcus Erisson had an equally impressive race, vaulting from 16th, while Will Power rebounded from a dismal qualifying display to take eighth.
Rinus VeeKay and Sebastien Bourdais rounded out the top 10, ahead of Scott Mclaughlin who took the best finish of his IndyCar career to-date with 11th. The three-time Supercars champion made his debut at the Florida track at the end of last season.
Elsewhere in the rookie class, Romain Grosjean made up five places on his starting position to finish 13th, while Jimmie Johnson finished a lowly 22nd after a dismal day that was punctuated by a collision with the wall at the final turn on lap 16 and a spin on lap 73.
Barber winner Alex Palou maintained the points lead, despite dropping out of top-10 contention late on following a brush with the wall. He also set the fastest lap of the race with a 1 minute 1.4568 seconds.
Alexander Rossi, who dominated much of last year’s St. Petersburg race until a late-race shunt, once again had a tough time.
After starting 11th, he quickly made his way into the top-10 but any further progress was hampered firstly by a slow stop, then a collision with Graham Rahal once he emerged from the pits. He was eventually classified 21st and two laps down. Rahal meanwhile had a much better recovery and was classified 15th and on the lead lap.
1. (1) Colton Herta, Honda, 100, Running
2. (3) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 100, Running
3. (4) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 100, Running
4. (2) Jack Harvey, Honda, 100, Running
5. (8) Scott Dixon, Honda, 100, Running
6. (15) Takuma Sato, Honda, 100, Running
7. (16) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 100, Running
8. (20) Will Power, Chevrolet, 100, Running
9. (7) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 100, Running
10. (5) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 100, Running
11. (14) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 100, Running
12. (17) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 100, Running
13. (18) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 100, Running
14. (13) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 100, Running
15. (9) Graham Rahal, Honda, 100, Running
16. (19) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 100, Running
17. (10) Alex Palou, Honda, 99, Running
18. (12) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 99, Running
19. (6) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 99, Running
20. (21) Ed Jones, Honda, 99, Running
21. (11) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 98, Running
22. (23) Jimmie Johnson, Honda, 95, Running
23. (24) Dalton Kellett, Chevrolet, 67, Off Course
24. (22) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 18, Mechanical