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Colton Herta rolled his Indianapolis 500 car through and through during Friday’s final practice. Andretti Autosport’s star driver was uninjured in the most significant accident in the build-up to ‘the greatest racing spectacle’.
“I think I was going a bit too fast for that corner,” Herta said.
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The crash with 25 minutes remaining on “Carb Day” destroyed the Andretti Honda and he will need a backup for Sunday’s race. Herta 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 Californian was talking on his team radio while his car was still rolling. When he pulled over, his father, Bryan, radioed Herta to stay put and restrained until emergency crews could free him from the car.
His father is his race strategist and immediately went to the Andretti garage to oversee the preparations for the backup car. Herta doesn’t have to slouch at the back of the field.
“Grateful for many things,” Herta said. “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. It was a big side blow. Yeah the safety teams were there very quickly to turn around.
Earlier in practice, David Malukas crashed following contact with Santino Ferrucci. Malukus, at 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.
Herta 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. Pole sitter Scott Dixon was third and seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson was seventh while Ganassi had four of his cars in the top seven. Defending IndyCar champion Alex Palou was 14th and the slowest in the Ganassi group.
“We had a good car all month. We didn’t go out and 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 are 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. Johnson was at Indy last season as part of NBC Sports coverage .
“I want to experience it all,” Johnson said. “It’s been great.”
Josef Newgarden and Team Penske won the pit stop challenge. Penske won the event for the 18th time.
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