COTA Unique Situation For IndyCar’s Inexperienced Drivers

This weekend will mark the first “official” time that the NTT IndyCar Series drivers will race on the Circuit of the America’s track. While they did conduct a two-day test on the 3.41-mile road course back in February, this will mark the very first true race weekend.

With that being said, COTA also brings up a unique situation for all 24 drivers. See, no one has raced in this series on this track before. Key word there is “series.” One rookie has raced at COTA before in F1. The other inexperienced drivers in the field have just as much track time at COTA as the veterans of the series.

They’re not at a disadvantage in Texas like they would normally be at other places.

“I’m so excited to race at COTA for the first time,” said Matheus Leist. “The place reminds me so much of the tracks I used to race in Europe. It is wide, long and has big straights. The high-speed section after Turn 1 has to be one of the most exciting high-speed sections of the calendar. I feel like the race is going to be a good show, and as the track is pretty wide I’d say the fans can expect lots of passes. It’s also a home race for our AJ Foyt Racing team and I’m more than enthusiastic to be around some close friends. The No. 4 ABC Supply Chevy crew will be working as hard as ever to bring a good result to our sponsor, fans and family. Looking forward to doing a great race weekend.”

Marcus Ericsson finished in the top 10 in last year’s F1 race at COTA and hopes that his past experience brings him a rare advantage in Sunday’s IndyCar Classic (1 p.m. ET/NBCSN/IndyCar Radio Network).

“I can’t wait to get to COTA,” said the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports rookie. “It’s the only track on the calendar that I know from before, having raced there previously quite a few times in Formula One. It’s a track I really like – I’ve had some strong weekends there in F1 so I’m coming back with good memories. Obviously, we had the INDYCAR spring training there, which we had two good days learning the track for Arrow SPM. I think, for us, going to COTA after St. Pete, where we had a very promising race which unfortunately ended with a DNF, we are going there with high targets. We want to build on that performance and come out with a great result to kick off our season. We’re feeling confident and we’re looking forward to having a great weekend.”

Fellow rookie Santino Ferrucci could have been on the fast track to racing at COTA in an F1 car but he was surprisingly let go from his ride in one of their feeder series’ last summer. That led him to Dale Coyne Racing last fall and back with the team on a full time basis in 2019. He comes to COTA on the heels of a ninth place finish in the season opener in St. Pete at that.

“I’m really looking forward to the race at Circuit of The Americas this weekend,” said Ferrucci. “It’s a track that I very much enjoy driving at as it suits my driving style and it’s the type of track that I’m more used to, compared to street circuits. We had a very good test at COTA last month so hopefully, we can pick up from where we left off and keep moving forward from there as we look to build on our top-10 performance at St. Petersburg.”

No one should be looking more forward to COTA than Colton Herta. His four test sessions last month saw him finish first in three of them and second in the other. After a top 10 finish in St. Pete, he’s a serious favorite to win on Sunday.

“I’m super excited to get back in the No. 88 Latitude Vacation Club Indy car this weekend,” said the second generation driver. “And especially coming back to the Circuit of The Americas where we were so quick in spring training last month. I know the Harding Steinbrenner Racing guys are super pumped after seeing the race pace we showed during the 2019 season opener at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, so we’ll try and convert that into a really good result this weekend!”

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