Kanaan, Ericsson Lead Carb Day; Herta May Need Backup Car

A delayed and shortened Carb Day practice followed the pattern of the other practice sessions with Chip Ganassi Racing cars in three of the first four spots. Tony Kanaan led the way with a lap of 227.114 mph, followed by Marcus Ericsson in second with a 227,004 mph lap. Scott Dixon was furth and Jimmie Johnson seventh in another Ganassi car.

Carb Day practice began just before 1 pm after the trrack dried from morning rains. The scheduled two hour practice was reduced to 90 minutes.

The session stopped twice for incidents. David Malukas attempted a pass on Santino Ferrucci going into turn 1. They touched wheels, Malukas went high and spun, hitting the wall in much the same way Dalton kellett did last Monday. The hit wasn’t as severe as Kellet’s, but there was still suspension damage.

Herta told NBC reporter Dave Burns, “I feel a little bit of sadness for that racecar.”

With about 30 minutes left, Colton Herta hit the outside wall in turn 1. The car got airborne and landed upside down. Herta was not injured. The car cannot be repaired, and Herta will drive a backup car Sunday. Herta will keep his starting position.

Josef Newgarden completed a session high 62 laps. Ed Carpenter turned the fewest circuits at 32.

The top 14:

I will have more later. Tomorrow the public drivers’ meeting is the only thing on the Speedway calendar.

Singin’ in the Rain- Herta’s Early Stop Pays Off

Some quick thoughts on a wild day at IMS:

The GMR Grand Prix was a two-hour long endurance race. I felt I was at the Rolex 24 for most of the race. Some quick thoughts. I will follow up with more tomorrow.

Honda finally broke through with a victory.

The race was not the prettiest I’ve ever seen, but gosh it was entertaining. Strategy changed almost every lap, contenders spun, came back, and spun again. Teams gambled, and some won while others lost. The drama and intrigue made for a fascinating event.

As we saw in 2019, this race is helped by rain.

A Good Day for Some Rookies

Four rookies had their best finishes of the year today. Callum Ilott was eighth, Christian Lundgaard ninth, David Malukas 12th, and Tatiana Calderon came home 15th. Calderon led a lap.

I can’t recall a race before today in which Will Power was on the pole and didn’t lead a lap.

Power has finished third or fourth in every race this season.

ECR Figuring Out Road Courses

Ed Carpenter Racing seems to have gotten a handle on road courses. The team has been in three Fast Six rounds and has twqo top five finishes.

Conor Daly’s fifth place today was his first top five in five years. Daly started fourth.

Rinus VeeKay has a pole and a fourth place start and finished third at Barber.

In 2019 Simon Pagenaud showed how good he was on a wet track, winning the GMR Grand Prix with a last lap pass. Today in less than ideal conditions he finished second after starting 20th. Definitely the driver of the day.

Alex Palou worked his way back to 18th after his early spin. He was not able to get his lap back because of the way the yellows fell. This track has been a difficult one for Palou. Last summer he finished last when his engine expired.

Thanks for following along. i will have more tomorrow on this wild race.

Herta Tops Warm Up; McLaughlin Engine Issue

Colton Herta had the fastest lap in this mirrning’s warmup session for this afternoon’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. Scott Dixon led most of the session before Herrta put down his quick lap, the only lap in 1:05 range.

Points leader Scott McLaughlin crew discovered a broken header after just two laps and they are changing the engine.

The practice had just one red flag. With about eight minutes left

Graham Rahat slid and his rear wing had slight contact with the wall.

The results:

Herta on Pole as Andretti Continues Long Beach Mastery

Tomorrow’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach will begin just where the 2021 race stopped-Colton Herta will lead the field to green flag followed by Josef Newgarden. In a qualifying session which the previous track record shredded to bits, Herta set the new mark of 1:05.3.

Herta and his Andretti Autosport teammates asserted the perennial dominance the team has has had since 2018. Alexander Rossi won the race in 2018 and 2019 from the pole. Herta won here last fall and now has added the pole.

Newgarden did not lead Team Penske in either of the practices, but came on strong during qualifying. Neither Will Power nor Scott McLaughlin advanced to the Fast Six. McLaughlin will be absent from the first row for the first time this season.

Meyer Shank Racing.lookred very strong in practice, but neither Simon Pagenaud nor Helio Castroneves advanced to the final round.

Romain Grosjean led the final practice and appeared to be on his way to the pole. He ran his car into the tire barrier, bringing out a red flag with just two seconds left in the session. The incident moved him to sixth place. The five remaining cars had an opportunity for one more timed lap

Only Felix Rosenqvist and Rosdi took advantage of the time. Rossi’s attempt ended as needed to use the runoff area. Rosenqvisy did not improve.

Qualifying results. Note-Devlin DeFrancesco will start 23rd tomorrow as he serves a six grid place penalty. I will have more thoughts on the day later this evening.

Herta on Pole as Andretti Continues Long Beach Mastery

Tomorrow’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach will begin just where the 2021 race stopped-Colton Herta will lead the field to green flag followed by Josef Newgarden. In a qualifying session which the previous track record shredded to bits, Herta set the new mark of 1:05.3.

Herta and his Andretti Autosport teammates asserted the perennial dominance the team has has had since 2018. Alexander Rossi won the race in 2018 and 2019 from the pole. Herta won here last fall and now has added the pole.

Newgarden did not lead Team Penske in either of the practices, but came on strong during qualifying. Neither Will Power nor Scott McLaughlin advanced to the Fast Six. McLaughlin will be absent from the first row for the first time this season.

Meyer Shank Racing.lookred very strong in practice, but neither Simon Pagenaud nor Helio Castroneves advanced to the final round.

Romain Grosjean led the final practice and appeared to be on his way to the pole. He ran his car into the tire barrier, bringing out a red flag with just two seconds left in the session. The incident moved him to sixth place. The five remaining cars had an opportunity for one more timed lap

Only Felix Rosenqvist and Rosdi took advantage of the time. Rossi’s attempt ended as needed to use the runoff area. Rosenqvisy did not improve.

Qualifying results. Note-Devlin DeFrancesco will start 23rd tomorrow as he serves a six grid place penalty. I will have more thoughts on the day later this evening.

Too Early for Silly Season

Image: Pato O’Ward

Before the first wheel turned at St. Pete 17 days, it was widely assumed that Alexander Rossi would leave Andretti Autosport at the end of this season. Rumors have him going to either Ganassi in the fourth car currently driven by Jimmie Johnson, or Will Power’s seat in car 12 at Penske. I am okay with this. The speculation has simmered since late 2021.

Yesterday, Racer magazine’s Marshall Pruett posted a piece about Pato O’Ward in which the AMSP driver says it is possible he will be in a different situation in 2023. he wasn’t clear whether that ride would be in Indycar with another team or in another slot within the McLaren organization.

Meanwhile, Michael Andretti continues to pursue his goal of F1 team ownership. His quest looks to widened. He still hopes that the current Formula 1 owners will accept his new team. There is also talk that he is speaking to Red Bull about buying the Alpha Tauri team. Should Andretti acquire an F1 component to his racing empire, Colton Herta will move to the European based circuit.

Colton Herta

Last week Herta signed a development driver contract with McLaren, which gives him an opportunity to get more super license points to qualify to drive in F1.

The good news is that Andretti is not likely to have a Formula 1 team until 2024, and it is unlikely that McLaren will have an open F1 seat before then for O’Ward. Rossi apparently will stay in Indycar for the forseeable future.

We need to enjoy watching Herta and O’Ward this year and next. After that, who knows? It isn’t as if the cupboard of young talent is bare should the two young guns leave. Kyle Kirkwood, Christian Lundgaard, and Callum Ilott will easily take over the spotlight.

We are just one race into the 2022 season. Can’t we just enjoy the racing at this point and save all the musical chairs stuff until late July? Silly Season seems to arrive earlier every year, but three weeks after the first race is way too early.

My Texas coverage starts later today. I will be on site this weekend. Please follow along.

Herta’s F1 McLaren Test Deal-Step Toward His Future?

Saturdays don’t usually start with driver news, so to see a story about Colton Herta signing an F1 development deal with McLaren was a shock to wake up to.

First, let’s look at what the deal is NOT:

It will not affect his Indycar schedule.

Herta will not participate in the first free practice on Friday of a Grand Prix weekend as of now, but there are two opportunities in the United States- Miami in May and Austin in October- which might change that. It is unlikely.

The deal does not affect Pato O’Ward’s status with McLaren. O’Ward is still a long way from F1.

Herta is not in line for a McLaren Formula 1 ride. Lando Norris is locked for several years, Daniel Riccardo is believed to have a contract through 2023.

The deals allows Herta to test in a Formula 1 car. The program allows testing in a 2021 or older car. This program is to develop drivers, not equipment.

From what I have seen, McLaren CEO Zak Brown is helping Michael Andretti should Andretti’s bid to gain entry into Formula 1 for 2024 is successful. He will have a young American driver with some familiarity with F1 machinery.

I think this allows Herta fans the best of both worlds. He will be in Indycar for at least two more seasons, while getting time in an F1 car. After that we will see what happens. Herta will be a great story to follow in F1.

Perhaps we could look ahead to 2026. After a fierce battle between O’Ward and Herta for the Indycar championship, both end up in F1 on teams that are equal. They fight each other all year for points.

The bottom line is I would hate for either of them to leave Indycar, but to get to F1, they just have a couple years if they want to make the move.

Herta Leads Morning Warmup

Cplton Herta led this morning’s final warm up for the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, edging Josef Newgarden by 0.27 seconds. Herta’s quick lap of 1:00.328 came late in the session.

Two red flags interrupted action. The first was for Jimmie Johnson who spun and stopped on track. the second came with just about three minutes remaining. Cars returned to the track for one timed lap.

Romain Grosjean had some adventures in turn 1. He tried to pass a car on the inside, locked his brakes, and went into the run off area. The car he tried to pass narrowly avoided a collision and continued.

Grosjean points his car in the right direction after sliding into the run-off area.

Later Grosjean and Helio Castroneves went side by side into the first turn. The cars made contact but continued without any issues.

The top 12

From the Paddock

Some notes from wandering around the track this morning and some quotes from driver interviews.

The Grand Prix is back to full concessions and vendor booths. In 2021 food and vendors were fewer than normal. Sadly, Wild Bill’s Root Beer stand is still missing. The crowd came late,but is now a healthy Friday attendance. The late arrivals have may been because of the late start for the first Indycar practice.

Some photos from the paddock:

Pato O’Ward
Callum Ilott

Herta Sets Plaque

Colton Herta took his place permanently in St. Petersburg racing history as he placed his plaque on the winner’s monument just behind Dan Wheldon Way. Of the now twelve names on the stone column, six are no longer racing in the series.

Herta’s nameplate completes the front side of the winner’s stone.

I’ll be back later with some driver quotes from this morning and a practice wrapup.

Indy lights just completed their qualifying session. Hunter McElreay won the pole.