INDIANAPOLIS — Colton Herta raced his Indianapolis 500 mile car in final Friday practice. The star driver of Andretti Autosport was not injured in the most important accident in the preparation for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing”.
“I think I was going a bit too fast for that corner,” Herta said.
The crash with 25 minutes remaining on Carb Day destroyed the Andretti Honda, and Herta will need a backup for Sunday’s race. He had also blown an engine in qualifying and will start 25th in whichever car Andretti can get ready for race day.
“A bit sad for this race car,” Herta said when asked how he felt after leaving the field care center.
The 22-year-old California driver was talking on his team radio as his car was still rolling. When he pulled over, his father, Bryan, told Herta to stay put and strapped in until emergency crews could free him from the car.
His father, who is his race strategist, immediately went to the Andretti garage to oversee the preparations for the backup car.
“Thank you for so many things,” said Colton Herta. “I guess the aeroscreen is one of them. More so the safety team, and I guess just the durability of the side pods on the side structure of the cars. That was a big side blow. Yeah, the safety teams were there knocking me down real quick.”
Earlier in practice, David Malukas crashed after contact with Santino Ferrucci. Malukas, 20, is the youngest driver on the board. Ferrucci was penalized for avoidable contact.
“Probably one of the biggest hits I’ve felt,” Malukas said. “I came out with just a little bruise.”
Herta earned its first win of the IndyCar season earlier this month with an entertaining drive in the rain on the road course inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Last year Herta qualified second, started first and led 13 laps before strategy backfired and he faded to a disappointing 16th.
He said Friday’s practice was all about “balancing the last little bits right.”
That was until the accident.
“I’m not too worried about the race,” Herta said. “I think the car will be fine.”
Tony Kanaan and Marcus Ericsson conducted testing for Chip Ganassi Racing. Poleman Scott Dixon was third fastest and seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson was seventh while Ganassi had four cars in the top seven. Defending IndyCar champion Alex Palou was 14th and slowest of the Ganassi group.
“We had a good car all month. We didn’t go out and [say] let’s be the fastest on Carb Day,” said Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion. “It doesn’t count, it doesn’t mean anything. It’s the consequence of a good car we’ve had all month. You look at the teammates, they’re all there.”
Johnson has been everywhere this month, from the track to the late-night talk show circuit as he prepares for his first Indy 500. He was at Indy last season as part of NBC Sports coverage .
“I want to experience it all,” Johnson said. “It’s been great.”