Update: Herta Transporter Catches Fire; Car Okay

Andretti Autosport issued the following statements on Twitter @FollowAndretti around 11 am ET:

At this time, damages to the 88 car appear to be minor and cosmetic, caused by heat, smoke and/or water. We have no current reason to believe that any competition or mechanical aspects of the 88 car have been damaged or compromised. (cont.)

Andretti Autosport
@FollowAndretti
Our Indy Lights team is in Florida for testing and is now in route to St. Pete to help evaluate and assess. Additionally, we are sending a team of INDYCAR crewman from Indianapolis to St. Pete today – in advance of the full team’s arrival tomorrow morning. (cont.)

Andretti Autosport
@FollowAndretti

We are also preparing backup pit equipment at our Indy race shop, this equipment & a spare transporter will depart Indianapolis today as well. Again, we would like to express our gratitude to our transport drivers & local fire departments for their quick responses & support.

 

The transporter carrying Colton Herta’s number 88 car to the Firestone Grand Prix caught fire early this morning just about 15 minutes from the track. An update just a few minutes ago reported that the car was not damaged, but there is extensive damage to the pit equipment.

Herta is expected to be a contender for the NTT Indycar Series championship. Follow along all day for updates.

My guess is the fire was caused by brake failure. A similar incident involving a Penske transporter happened in the early 2000s. I believe it Helio Castroneves’ car, but I’m not sure. He went on to win the race.

Update from Nathan Brown if the Indianapolis Star:

Quick Thoughts- Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey

I always wish that that there is still one more race after the season ending event. This year it seems I wish that even more. After a race like that, I’m really sad to see this year end.

If it’s September, a Herta is succeeding at Laguna Seca.

I’m not sure what the race looked on television, but here at the track there was lots of action and intrigue. There were great battles at the front of the field all day.

A masterful job by Colton Herta, who has learned how to manage tires. He should be in the conversation for the title next year. It was a nice way to end the season for  his current team.

Great rebound for Felix Rosenqvist after his qualifying penalty. His fifth place finish sealed Rookie of the Year.

Four poles and two wins is an outstanding record for this rookie class. More on the rookies next week.

All seven winners this year won multiple races.

I saw lots of action from my viewing spot in turn 2. It’s another spot here where most of the track can be seen.

Josef Newgarden has two titles in three years. Could he be the next Scott Dixon?

Simon Pagenaud said, “Do not repave the track. Leave it as it is. It creates the perfect racing. I hope nothing changes. It is the perfect format.”

I don’t remember a season when the contenders going into the final race had all had finishes below 15th at some point in the year.

It will be nice to see a car carrying the number 1 again next season. I think it should be mandatory for the champion to carry it on his car the following year.

 

I have lots of people to thank for making this season  a great one for The Pit Window. I will expand on that next week. But today I will thank everyone for reading all season. I still have some big things coming the next few months.

Some photos from today.

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Quick Thoughts- Laguna Seca Qualifying

Photo: Kyle McInnes

It was a strange grouping to have all the title contenders in Group 1. They all advanced.

Felix Rosenqvist may have thrown the pole away with his incident. He had the fastest lap but was not allowed to advance. We may have missed a great battle between two rookies for the pole.

Herta’s pole is to Newgarden’s advantage since none of the drivers chasing him earned the bonus point.

If Herta can win poles with his current team, imagine what he can do with the full force of Andretti behind him next year.

It was nice to see Max Chilton make the second round.

Newgarden just needs to hold his starting position tomorrow to win the championship.

Will Power missed the Fast Six by just 0.0055 seconds.

Herta’s pole continues the family history of poles at Weather tech Raceway Laguna Seca. His fATHER bRYn won the pole in 1997, 1998, and 1999, Bryan also won the race in 1997 and 1998.

Rookies now have four poles this season.

I look for Newgarden to be a bit conservative tomorrow at the start. he doesn’t necessarily have to finish ahead of Rossi to wrap up the title.

Save your liver- don’t make your drinking game word iconic.

Back tomorrow morning with a quick preview. Thanks for following along this weekend.

 

Herta Leads Rookie Parade in Practice 1

Colton Herta continues to be the fastest at Weather Tech Raceway as he led two other rookies in the NTT Indycar Series first practice. Herta’s fast lap of 1:10.7235 was just a tick slower than his fast time yesterday. Felx Rosenqvist was second and Santino Ferrucci was third. Rosenqvist leads Ferrucci by 26 points for Rookie of the Year. Herta is 49 points behind Rosenqvist.

Alexander Rossi completed just 4 laps and had the slowest speed in the session. Simon Pagenaud in 6th was the quickest of the title contenders.  Points leader Josef Newgarden was 9th.

There was one red flag during practice for Tony Kanaan who spun off the track and could not restart. Colton Herta spun in the corkscrew as time expired.

The top 12

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I talked to some local fans this morning who told me they were very happy that Indycar has returned to this track. One said he attended every CART and Champ Car race. The fans reminded me of the fans at Road America in 2016 when the series returned to Wisconsin.

Back after a press conference with Mark Miles and Jay Frye.

 

Quick Thoughts- Grand Prix of Portland Qualifying

Photo: Kyle McInnes

Was that qualifying or boxing match? What a tremendous battle between Colton Herta and Will Power. They traded the lead back and forth for three rounds before Herta emerged on the pole. Power’s miscue in turn one on his next to last lap may have cost him the pole. Herta was quick all weekend, though, and the result isn’t a surprise.

This session was the best road/street course qualifying of the year. There was drama throughout.

Scott Dixon is the only one of the top four in points to get in the Fast Six. Leader Josef Newgarden starts 13th, a dangerous place to be going into turn 1 at the start here. Simon Pagenaud starts 18 and Alexander Rossi 7th. Watching the championship contenders’ progress in the race will be an interesting task tomorrow.

Jack Harvey has done a great job all year. In eight races to date, he has  finished in the top ten in four of them.  Today is the fifth time Harvey has advanced to at least the second round of qualifying. Today is his second Fast Six. I can’t wait to see what he does as a full time driver next year.

Conor Daly did it again. He jumps into a car for a different team and puts it into Round 2. Daly will start 9th, his best starting spot of the season. This is his second time in Round 2. He also has two top ten finishes. Daly deserves a full time ride in 2020. I don’t know what else he can do to prove himself.

Great job the Arrow Schmidt Peterson team to get both cars into Round 2.

Five teams in the Fast Six always makes the final round fun.

Felix Rosenqvist missed turn1 in two consecutive rounds but still made the Fast Six.

Power said after qualifying that there is not as much difference between the red and black tires this year as there was last year at Portland. He still thinks cars will be able to pass during the race.

Herta gambled by waiting to run one final lap on reds. He was nearly as fast on blacks.

Chalk up another one for the 2019 rookies. The scoreboard- 3 poles, 1 win.

Back tomorrow morning with a race preview. It looks like we will have a fun race tomorrow.

Herta Fastest in Practice 3; Qualifying Groups Set

Photo: Kyle McInnes

First, news I hate reporting about. Sad news from Spa. F2 driver Antoine Hubert suffered fatal injuries in a horrific crash at the start of the race this morning.

Colton Herta led his second session of the weekend in final practice this morning for the Grand Prix of Portland.  Herta was the only drive to turn a lap in less than 57 seconds and turned the weekend’s fastest lap yesterday morning. His time of 57.9939 seconds beat the second quickest time of series points leader Josef Newgarden by 0.1083 seconds. Will Power was third, followed by Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi.

Red flags flew twice. Matheus Leist spun in turn 2 and stalled as he attempted to restart the car. Late in the session Santino Ferrucci’s car stopped just after exiting the pits. Practice resumed after the car was towed back to his pit. It was an adventurous session for Ferrucci. Rossi was coming out of the pits as Ferrucci entered turn 1. The cars nearly touched and Ferrucci needed to go through the chicane.  He was not happy with Rossi.

Hondas again dominated practice. The Team Penske cars of Newgarden and Power were the only Chevys in the top ten.

Qualifying Groups

Group 1`                                                                        Group 2

Newgarden                                                                     Herta

Dixon                                                                                Power

Hunter-Reay                                                                   Rossi

Rahal                                                                                Harvey

Bourdais                                                                         Rosenqvist

Sato                                                                                  Chilton

Hinchcliffe                                                                     Ferrucci

Veach                                                                              Andretti

Daly                                                                                 Pagenaud

Leist                                                                                 Pigot

Kanaan                                                                            Kimball

Jones

 

Notes

Katherine Legge will drive the 2 seater at the start of tomorrow’s race. She says she is working on a ride for next year’s Indianapolis 500.

The 2020 schedule will be released near the beginning of the pre-race show on NBC tomorrow.

Another nice crowd on hand at Portland International Raceway today.

From earlier today:

https://thepitwindow.blog/2019/08/31/qualifying-day-at-portland/

 

 

 

 

Herta Quickest in Practice 1

Colton Herta ran the fastest lap in Practice 1 for the Grand Prix of Portland as preparations for the NTT Indycar Series 16th round got underway. Herta’s 57.4293 second circuit beat out Alexander Rossi by 0.1245 seconds.  Andretti Autosport had all four cars in the top ten. Herta’s Harding Steinbrenner team has a technical alliance with Andretti.

Points leader Josef Newgarden finished the session in fourth place.  Newgarden was the only Chevrolet car in the top ten. Penske teammates Will Power and Simon Pagenaud were 11th and 12th. Conor Daly, filling in for Marcus Ericsson at Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, was 23rd.

The session was green the entire time, although there were a few off road excursions. Graham Rahal went off course in turn 11 near the end of the session but got back on track. Several drivers missed turn 1 and needed to take the chicane penalty.

James Hinchcliffe spun just past turn two near the end of the session. The car kept running and he continued. Max Chilton and Simon Pagenaud had a near collision as Chilton exited the pits. It appeared he didn’t see Pagenaud coming.

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James Hinchcliffe gets going again after his turn 2 spin
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Josef Newgarden heads for the smoke cloud left by Hinchcliffe

The next practice session is at 5:40 Eastern time followed by a 30 minute pit stop practice at 6:40 Eastern.