LEXINGTON, OH – The rookie of the year race for the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season is heating up. Heading into Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 (4 p.m. ET/NBC/INDYCAR Radio Network) Chip Ganassi Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist leads Dale Coyne Racing’s Santino Ferrucci by just 14 points.
Harding Steinbrenner Racing’s Colton Herta is only 34 points back himself while Arrow Schmidt Peterson Racing’s Marcus Ericsson is 43 points arrears.
Colton Herta in his No. 88 Honda this weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course – INDYCAR Media Site
But, as we now head into Sunday’s 90 Lap race, it appears that Herta may be able to close the gap even more. See, Herta is the only rookie to have won a race this season. He reached victory lane in his third career Indy Car start back on March 24 at COTA.
Unfortunately, he’s had a ton of bad luck ever since.
Herta, had an electrical issue at Barber and would finish 24th. In Long Beach, he had a problem too when he got into the wall and would finish 23rd. During the entire Month of May, he only completed 18 laps of racing action as he was involved in an accident on Lap 15 of the INDYCAR Grand Prix (23rd) and had his engine let go just three laps into the Indy 500 (33rd).
He had qualified ninth at Barber, 10th in Long Beach, fourth for the INDYCAR Grand Prix and fifth for the ‘500.
Then in Belle Isle, he started fifth in both races but he never really was a factor. He finished 12th in both events on the Detroit area street circuit too.
In Texas, he started 10th and was in the top five for a majority of the night before crashing with 20 laps-to-go with Scott Dixon. He’d finish 18th.
As you can see, he had an extremely fast car more times than not but seven straight finishes of 12th or worse took him from second to 16th in the standings. While he’d like to win Rookie of the Year honors, it’s something that’s not on his radar right now.
“I don’t really mind where we end up with Rookie of the Year,” Herta said on Friday from the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. “I think looking at the overall standings, if you’re going to run with the front guys, that’s whoever is going to be the Rookie of the Year.
“I don’t even know who leads it. Felix (Rosenqvist) lead it right now? It’s really close right now.”
But, his luck is starting to come back around. Herta, has two top 10 finishes in his last three starts on the season. He was eighth in Road America after starting on the pole. He was seventh in Toronto. Now, heading into Mid-Ohio, Herta has a strong sense he will contend for the win in his No. 88 Honda.
See, Herta has had a great past history here. He should have won an Indy Lights race a few years ago. Instead, he spun while leading. But, he still has three runner-up finishes in his last four Indy Lights starts on the 2.258-mile road course.
In practice this weekend, he was quickest overall on Friday and fastest on the speed charts again on Saturday morning. He qualified seventh. That’s why he feels like he has a shot.
“I’m very excited for the Honda Indy 200 this weekend because Mid-Ohio is my favorite track in North America,” said Herta. “It’s always such a fun race with so many fans who camp out the entire weekend. I’m confident in the hard work the Harding Steinbrenner Racing guys have been doing in between Iowa and this coming weekend so we can have another great result.”