Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta in the No.26 Gainbridge Honda was delighted with his flag to flag victory in Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg following the disappointment of last weekend’s season-opening Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.
The Californian started the race from pole position and dominated the race, leading 97 of the 100 laps, breaking the 94 lap record held by Meyer Shank Racing’s Helio Castroneves who scored the record driving for Penske.
Speaking to Paddock Eye about what it meant to win the race, Herta said:
It’s huge. We needed — I was talking to my engineer. Really coming into this weekend we knew we really needed to win. We needed to hit the reset button. We needed a good points swing for us, not only for the — well, I guess mostly for the championship, but you have to think Texas is next week and we were dead last on the points, so we were going to have to qualify early and go out there early and probably not qualify super well. So I’m super happy to get the win, obviously because it’s a win, but it’ll put us up in the championship, and that’s going to make our lives that much easier in Texas and that much easier going forward for the rest of the season.
Herta went on to say how special it was to have had his dad, Bryan Herta in his ear for the race saying:
It was super special, and obviously he was very fast here, and so this is one of the places that we share a pole, which is really cool, and then to have a win here is amazing. It’s my first win on a street course. I really have the permanent road courses dialed in, but now working on those street courses. Obviously Indy and the short ovals, I think that’s kind of my next step, and we proved that we have the speed to win on these street courses now, too.
Speaking about his closely fought battle with Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden, Herta said:
“He’s so good around here. “I was nervous because he was on those new red tires. I thought they were going to be better. But they ended up being similar (to the primary tires), so I was able to hold him off.”