Chip Ganassi Racing rookie Felix Rosenqvist talks about qualifying fifth for Sunday’s IndyCar Classic and what a key to the race might be.
Jim Ayello, email@example.com
AUSTIN, Texas — History has been made. A few days shy of his 19th birthday, Colton Herta conquered Sunday’s inaugural IndyCar Classic at Circuit of the Americas and became the youngest race-winner in IndyCar history.
The previous owner of the record was the man who finished fourth, Graham Rahal, who won at St. Pete when he was a 19 years, 3 months and two days old.
Herta, the second generation driver and Harding Steinbrenner leading man bounced backed from a rough opening day at COTA when his engine failed during Friday’s first practice session. The team missed the second session but did a remarkable job to replace his engine and get him back on track for the day-ending “warmup” session.
From there, Herta and HSR flourished. He qualified fourth on Saturday and stayed with the leaders all day Sunday until becoming the benefactor of a late yellow. He held off his competitors in the final restart and made history.
The winner’s circle: Joining Herta in the winner’s circle is the man who has preached consistency since it eluded him last year. After winning the season-opener at St. Pete, Josef Newgarden backed it up with a runner-up finish at COTA. Hard to imagine a better way to start the season.
Ryan Hunter-Reay, meanwhile, bounces back from a DNF at St. Pete (blown engine) to claim his first podium of the season.
Unforgettable: So. Many. Choices. Power’s heartbreaking end to the race, or Rosenqvist’s stunning crash — I’ll get to both later. Instead, let’s go with something positive. Rookie Pato O’Ward has injected Carlin Racing with all kinds of excitement. In fact the uber-talented young Mexican driver has the eyes of the IndyCar world watching now, mostly because of moves like this:
Drive another day: Poor Will Power. When it rains it pours on this guy. After leading 45 of Sunday’s 60 laps, he, Alexander Rossi and Scott Dixon all got caught out by a late yellow flag caused by a Felix Rosenqvist crash in Turn 19. In the pits thinking of how he might simply salvage the day, his car suffered a mechanical failure and never left pit lane.
Instead of a win, Power suffered a last-place finish.
“Massively disappointed man,” a frustrated Power told the NBC Sports TV broadcast. “To lead so many laps and have the guys work so hard all weekend. … I just wish I didn’t have to; I just want to have a normal run without this sort of crap.”
The leaderboard: A runner-up finish keeps Newgarden squarely out front in the championship. His 93 points are 18 more than Herta, who now sits in second.
Prediction corner: Rossi’s race wasn’t the only one ruined by that late yellow flag. My pick to win the IndyCar Classic got cycled to the middle of the pack after Rosenqvist-Hinchcliffe incident caused a yellow flag late in the race.
Thank you! You’re almost signed up for
Keep an eye out for an email to confirm your newsletter registration.
I also thought ex-Formula One driver and Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Marcus Ericsson would enjoy a nice day at a familiar track, and he was on pace to do so until he was penalized for an unsafe pit lane exit and sent to the back of the pack.
Follow IndyStar Motor Sports Insider Jim Ayello on Twitter and Facebook: @jimayello.