Following a two-week hiatus, the NTT Data IndyCar Series resumes with the Honda Indy Toronto this weekend
It’s the first of three straight weeks of action, with Iowa Speedway and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Complex to follow.
Which brings back some pointed emotions for Colton Herta.
The former two-time Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix winner from Valencia was challenging to add the 2019 Firestone Indy Lights Series title to his trophy case when he broke his thumb in a crash on the streets of Toronto.
Herta, bandaged thumb and all, was all set to get right back into action the following week at Mid-Ohio.
That’s when Bryan Herta, Colton’s Dad, flashed the two thumbs down sign.
Papa forbade son to race.
The absence was the margin of victory for Andretti Autosport teammate Patricio O’Ward to claim his first Indy Lights championship
Colton was plainly miffed. He let his father, and the IndyCar community. know it, too.
The 19-year-old IndyCar prodigy only knows one speed — fast forward.
The reaction to his father’s dictum, it turns out, was a harbinger of this 2019 season.
Whether becoming the youngest IndyCar winner ever at Austin, or crashing out of the Texas race with Scott Dixon, or coming back to become the youngest IndyCar pole winner at Road America, Herta is in perpetual attack mode.
It evokes memories for Nathan O’Rourke, Herta’s race engineer at Harding Steinbrenner Racing in a technical partership with Andretti Autosport.
“He reminds me so much of Josef Newgarden when he was a rookie,” said O’Rourke, who was the race engineer at Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing in 2012. “Just like when we tested Colton at Portland last year, you could tell from the very first laps with Josef that he was something special.”
But even more than the 2017 IndyCar Series champion, Herta has demonstrated an eagerness for speed that even transcend natural tweaks in practice chassis setup.
“Some guys will come in and stop everything and say unless something is fixed, there’s no speed in the car,” O”Rourke said. “Colton is the exact opposite. He won’t say a word about handlng issues.
“He’ll just find a way to make the car go faster.”
Herta has learned one lesson, if grudgingly, this season.
It’s not how you start; it’s how you finish. After three DNF’s when he was running in the top 6, Herta won the pole at Road America and finished eighth.
“Colton’s 14th in points, and third in the Rookie of the Year,” O’Rourke said. “I can see him achieving both of those things this year.”