Herta Leads Andretti Autosport Podium Sweep at Mid-Ohio (And What They are Saying!)

LEXINGTON, Ohio (Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020) – After a challenging 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, Andretti Autosport finally broke through to Victory Circle in dominating fashion as Colton Herta scored his third career win in Race 2 of the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio weekend doubleheader Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

NTT P1 Award winner Herta led an Andretti Autosport sweep of the podium in the No. 88 Capstone Turbine #ShiftToGreen Honda, beating teammate Alexander Rossi in the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS / AutoNation Honda to the finish line by 1.3826 seconds. Fellow Andretti driver Ryan Hunter-Reay finished third in the No. 28 DHL Honda, 2.4965 seconds behind Herta.

RESULTS: Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Race 2

Rounding out the top five behind the Andretti trio were Ohio native Graham Rahal in the No. 15 Fifth Third Bank Honda and Marcus Ericsson in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

“I’m so happy,” Herta said. “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.”

Heading into Sunday’s race, Andretti Autosport had just two podium finishes this season, third-place results by Rossi at Road America-2 and in Saturday’s Race 1 at Mid-Ohio. Andretti Autosport’s last win came when Rossi dominated the field at Road America in June 2019.

The last time Andretti Autosport swept the podium was in 2005 at St. Petersburg when Dan Wheldon scored the win and fellow Andretti teammates Tony Kanaan, Dario Franchitti and Bryan Herta – Colton Herta’s father – followed to sweep the top four finishing positions for what was known as Andretti Green Racing at the time.

“It’s so huge, so huge,” team owner Michael Andretti said. “Thank God we came here to Mid-Ohio. We were a little worried that we weren’t going to be able to get here, but Kevin Savoree and those guys did a great job getting this race on, and it paid off for us, man. One-two-three. The way things have been going for us this year, this is huge for us, the whole team.”

Herta led 57 of 75 laps from the pole after winning the NTT P1 Award in a thrilling qualifying session Sunday morning.

The race also got off to an action-packed start as Herta and second-place starter Santino Ferrucci went side-by-side into Turn 4 of the 13-turn, 2.258-mile circuit. Ferrucci lost control of his No. 18 SealMaster Honda and went into the grass. Ferrucci then returned to the track, where he collided with Dale Coyne Racing teammate Alex Palou in the No. 55 Guaranteed Rate Honda and Felix Rosenqvist in the No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

Ferrucci was assessed a penalty for avoidable contact, and Palou and Rosenqvist were eliminated from the race. Ferrucci finished 14th, while Rosenqvist and Palou finished 22nd and 23rd, respectively.

The action continued on Lap 22 when points leader Scott Dixon made a costly mistake in Turn 1 that led to a disappointing 10th-place finish after starting third.

Dixon powered through the fastest corner on the track and lost control of his No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, spinning on corner exit. Dixon didn’t hit anything, but the track remained under green flag conditions, and Dixon fell to 20th position.

“I think we kind of tried to have the tires a little bit better for longer in the run, so I think our cold pressures were really low,” Dixon said. “We really struggled on the restarts, especially the initial start and that restart. Plus, everybody behind me had reds on. So, I got aggressive, hit the overtake on the exit of (Turn) 1, and just way too much Honda power there and spun the tires and spun the car.

“So, it totally caught me off guard. Total rookie mistake. I’m so bummed for the team. It’s just such a stupid mistake I shouldn’t have made. Obviously, the car was fast. We were able to fight our way through the pack. It should have been an easy points day.”

Five-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Dixon spent the rest of the race trying to rebound, running as high as fourth while on an alternate pit strategy. Dixon was forced to give up his track position on Lap 59 when he pitted for the final time. With the freshest tires in the field, he rallied for his second 10th-place finish of the weekend.

The challenging day did no favors to Dixon’s standing in the championship. His lead over Josef Newgarden shrunk to 72 points, continuing a downward slide for Dixon in the last three races.

Since his most recent win in the first race of the doubleheader at World Wide Technology Raceway on Aug. 29, Dixon has lost 45 points to Newgarden.

Newgarden, the defending NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion, had a quiet day, finishing eighth in the No. 1 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet. He gained four points on Dixon after entering the day down 76 points.

“The easiest way (to win the championship) is going to try to win Race 1 at the Indy road course and then do the same in Race 2,” Dixon said. “It would be nice to go to St. Pete without having to worry about it. But the NTT INDYCAR SERIES is so tight right now. The competition is super tough. Trying to rebound off days like this is super tough.”

There are three races left in the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. The next event is the INDYCAR Harvest GP doubleheader Oct. 2-3 on the 2.439-mile IMS road course. The season ends with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, Oct. 25.

‘What They’re Saying’ from
the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Race 2

Top 10 Finishers

1st – COLTON HERTA (No. 88 Capstone Turbine #ShiftToGreen Honda): “I’m so happy. 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.”

2nd – ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS / AutoNation Honda): “I’m just so happy for Andretti Autosport and Michael (Andretti). 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.”

3rd – RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “I think all in all, it was a pretty good day considering we started eighth and finished third. It was great to have an all-Andretti podium for the whole team. I think everyone really needed this. I was a little disappointed losing second place due to contact with Scott Dixon. We’ve raced each other super clean for many years, never any contact, so to lose a second place – or a shot at the win – today that was definitely disappointing. It was a good day for DHL, our partners AutoNation and Honda – really appreciate everyone’s support, and hopefully we can celebrate after getting on the top step at the Harvest Grand Prix in Indianapolis.”

4th – GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Fifth Third Bank Honda): “The Fifth Third Bank car was strong today. We were able to pass a few guys on the second stint but didn’t feel great on those reds toward the end. I was struggling a little bit, and I think that hurt us. I think we had more pace than those guys (top three), but the track position was hard. All in all, I thought our strategy was good, the pit stops were good, and the Fifth Third Bank car was good. Two fourth-place finishes here is not too bad. We would have liked to gain a little more points on the guys ahead, but we’ll take it. I think we closed the gap to some. That was as physical of a weekend as you are going to have. Congrats to Colton (Herta) on a great run. This weekend we raised $7,500 for Turns for Troops with United Rentals, so that’s another thing to be happy about.”

5th – MARCUS ERICSSON (No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “That was a good race. We had a difficult day yesterday, and it was a disappointing qualifying today in the rain. The feeling was that we needed a good result today. That’s what we did. I had a really good start by overtaking three or four cars, and then there were three cars that got taken out of the race. We started off the race really well. From then on, we had good pace, I was overtaking cars, and we made some really good strategy calls like overcutting and undercutting people. The Huski Chocolate crew had really strong pit stops today. Overall, it was a real team effort, and it was nice to be P5 there in the end. Solid results.”

6th – SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet): “I think we finally broke our curse. We had a good race today, and we’ll take a sixth-place finish in the DXC Technology Chevrolet. Saturday’s result was a real shame; it definitely didn’t show the pace that we had here. I think we’ve had a good car all weekend long, and I think today we maximized what we had. We definitely still have some work to do, but we are happy with the direction we are headed with the car, and that’s a good sign for us heading back to Harvest Grand Prix at Indianapolis.”

7th – WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was actually a pretty solid race for the Verizon Chevrolet. We had some radio issues, so I really wasn’t sure what position we were running in all the time, so I really just followed my teammates and pitted when they did. It was pretty smooth sailing from there, but we really couldn’t make up a lot of ground. Obviously, it was a pretty disappointing result in qualifying today, and that was totally my fault. Considering that and the radio challenges during the race, we come away actually feeling all right with a seventh-place result and a pretty good weekend overall with the win on Saturday.”

8th – JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet): “We were just a little too average today. We didn’t really have superior pace, and our starting position didn’t help us out. We tried to make some hay in the beginning, and the caution didn’t really work in our favor for what we were planning strategy-wise. We were just kind of stuck where we were all day, to be honest. We just need to work on getting a little more race pace. I think that’s what we were lacking. On the car itself, we needed a little better grip and a little more balance. Everything else was solid. I think Team Chevy came with a great engine today. We had what we needed from them, and obviously the support from PPG is always great here at Mid-Ohio, so we just need to work on ourselves a little next time out.”

9th – PATO O’WARD (No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “We started 21st and made our way up a few places at the start, but then everything kind of went sideways from there. We came into the pits for the first stop and guys were getting released, which put us into a position where we couldn’t turn into the box quite as tight as we wanted to. This meant the fuel probe couldn’t quite connect, and we couldn’t get fuel into the car. This led to us having to go all the way to the back and pit for more fuel. We had to make everything up on track after that. We had such strong pace, and I truly think if we had started up front, we would have been better. I made a very stupid mistake in qualifying that really put us on the back foot, and I tried to earn back as much as I could today by giving it everything I had. At the end of the day, a top-10 finish isn’t bad from where we started.”

10th – SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “We really struggled on the restarts with tire pressures for some reason. On the turn when I spun out, I just had a bunch of guys in front of me on alternate tires, and I got too aggressive. I got on the overtake button at the exit of Turn 1 and spun the tires and spun the car. It was just a stupid, rookie mistake, and I feel bad for the PNC Bank team. Obviously, the car proved to be fast after that. We managed to fight back until the very end and pick up some spots. But overall, we should have never been in that position to begin with.”

Remainder of Drivers (alphabetical – with finishing position):

MARCO ANDRETTI (Finished 20th – No. 98 Surgere / Curb Honda): “I made a costly mistake today and clipped the wet grass entering Turn 1, and it cost us a good result. But really happy for Colton (Herta) and the team – congrats to everyone!”

OLIVER ASKEW (Finished 15th – No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “The No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP team made good progress during the weekend. Today was the first time I had to fuel save this year, which was an adjustment, but I felt like I gave it my all. Looking forward to getting back to the Indianapolis road course, where we qualified in the Fast Six earlier this year. I think the entire team has a lot of potential, and I’m looking forward to capitalizing on that.”

MAX CHILTON (Finished 13th – No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet): “It wasn’t quite the top 10 that I wanted, but to start back in 18th and make up five positions throughout the race and do it legitimately is something to be proud of. We outraced and outpaced some strong cars out there, and I did two of the best overtakes I’ve done all year around the outside of a high-speed corner. I’m very happy with the job we did today. We kept good pace and good fuel mileage, and I feel like we managed the race really well. I don’t think we could’ve done much more during the race; the only thing would’ve been to qualify slightly higher up. Regardless, I know that top 10 for myself and the Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet is coming this year.”

CONOR DALY (Finished 16th – No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet): “Today was tough in qualifying. We just didn’t get the right lap in at the right time, and we just missed having another lap by a couple of seconds. Starting on the back foot, that’s hard. We took a gamble with the setup, which was actually good for me to try. We were in the wrong place at the wrong time for everything that happened on track. It was a shame. However, there were some positives. Yesterday, we qualified fourth, which was really good. We are still learning together as a team. Hopefully we can put what we learned here toward the Harvest Grand Prix.”

SANTINO FERRUCCI (Finished 14th – No. 18 SealMaster Honda): “It was a tough race. The SealMaster Honda had good pace, but on the opening lap I got caught off guard on the outside, and when I tried to collect it, I did some damage to the car. We came back from last to finish 14th with a couple of good pit stops and a really good last stint. Obviously, it was not our weekend. However, we had a lot of good takeaways, so I’m looking forward to the Harvest Grand Prix.”

JACK HARVEY (Finished 12th – No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda): “I think today was a pretty decent day considering where we started. I have to give a big shout out to the MSR guys for working really hard to get the car back in shape after qualifying. We had a pretty good start, and I was just running my race. I think our pace on both red and blacks today was pretty strong; it’s just that it’s so hard to pass here. I wish we could have made it into the top 10, especially in front of Mike’s (Shank) home crowd, but we’re walking away with our best finish at Mid-Ohio, and we’ll push forward to get a good result back at Indy in a few weeks.”

DALTON KELLETT (Finished 21st – No. 14 K-Line USA / AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “The only thing you can do on a day like today is take the positives and learn from what went wrong. The team made some good changes from qualifying to the race. For the first half of the first stint, the car felt really good. We were on pace with the guys around us. Our speed was pretty competitive on the alternate Firestones. Just a little mistake on my part on the downshift, it got loose into (Turn) 1, and I couldn’t save it. When I backed it into the gravel, we damaged the underwing pretty bad, so it was a big loss in downforce. The rest of the race was more of an exercise in keeping the car on the track and trying not to get in the way of the leaders and the cars that weren’t damaged and kind of chugging along. It’s one we’ll have to file away and come back stronger for the Harvest GP.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (Finished 19th – No. 4 Tresiba / AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “So, I definitely think we made the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet better overnight from Race 1 to Race 2. This morning, obviously, was unfortunate with the spin in the wet, so we started last, and around here at Mid-Ohio, it’s so hard to pass. The guys did a great job in pit lane. We were able to hit the fuel number we needed to get to the end of the race, so on that side of things I think we checked some boxes, learned some things, learned a little bit about the car as we head to the doubleheader at the Harvest Grand Prix back on the Indy road course. We’ll take what we learned from there in July, what we learned from here, put it together and hopefully come up with a good package off the truck.”

ALEX PALOU (Finished 23rd – No. 55 Guaranteed Rate Honda): “That’s not how I wanted to end my day at Mid-Ohio in our No. 55 Guaranteed Rate car. We were happy to be starting from fourth and to be starting at the front of the field. I had a good start, but then I saw a car coming toward me. I moved to the right a bit to try and avoid him, but I couldn’t go very far because Felix (Rosenqvist) was next to me and we ended up both getting hit and taken out. It just wasn’t our weekend at Mid-Ohio.”

FELIX ROSENQVIST (Finished 22nd – No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “Obviously, I think we were pretty innocent with what happened with the accident at the start. I saw something was going on to the inside of me at the start, and I tried to take as wide of a line as I could in anticipation of what could happen. But I just got hit from behind. (Santino) Ferrucci went off, hit another car coming back on, and that car just pinballed into us, unfortunately. It’s a shame because the NTT DATA Honda was really in a good spot for a good result. Overall, it’s just very disappointing for us.”

TAKUMA SATO (Finished 18th – No. 30 Panasonic / Mi-Jack Honda): “Everyone pit under the second yellow. Strategy-wise, staying out allowed us to try something, and we led the race for a while and made over five seconds of gap, which was needed. But unfortunately after the second sequence, we hit huge traffic where everybody was going in and out, in and out (of the pits), and we lost a couple of seconds. And then by the time everything was finished, we went back to where we were. It’s a shame, but we had to try. It was a tough weekend for us.”

ZACH VEACH (Finished 17th – No. 26 Gainbridge Honda): “The beginning of the race was good for us. We kind of got through traffic, ended up settling in around 11th . We saw an opportunity to make a stop right before a yellow came out. Unfortunately, we put Firestone blacks on when everyone else did Firestone reds, so we kind of struggled that next stint. And for whatever reason, we had less fuel in the car than we thought, so we had to stop about two laps early, and that made the last stint a pretty big fuel saving stint. We really didn’t get an opportunity to charge forward from the halfway point on, but we did the best with what we could and what we had today. I’m really happy for the all-Andretti podium, and congrats to those guys.”

RINUS VEEKAY (Finished 11th – No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet): “That was a very tough race. Maybe because of the rainy conditions this morning, the track was different. My car felt nothing like yesterday. I had to dodge some cars at the start and did not really move forward like other guys did. It wasn’t the greatest race, but P11 is not terrible. We’ve got the Indy road course again – and again. I had my best road course finish there, so I am ready to go back.”