Beginning his rookie campaign, Colton Herta admitted he was taking a cautious approach to the season. However, St. Petersburg went better than anticipated as he finished second and first to take the early points lead.
“It was a good weekend,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “To be honest, it was unexpected. We were just going in there hoping just to get some top-five finishes, start the season off right, get some points and start the season off right. But came out points leaders and the win, which is kind of what we’re expecting going into this round – kind of defend the title and even though it doesn’t mean much right now, we need to be up there.”
Now set for rounds three and four at Barber Motorsports Park, Herta says he’s taking a relaxed approach to the weekend.
“We have the pace, and we’ve tested here before, so I know we can be quick,” he said. “It’s just a matter of getting everything together and producing a good clean weekend for some good points.”
Things are going solidly so far as he was fifth quickest in Friday’s lone practice session, despite using old tires compared to the top-three. It’s just a matter of keeping a solid set-up underneath him throughout qualifying and both races.
“There’s a lot of ups and downs in the track, which is pretty tough on traction and tires, and it’s hard to get the car set-up for every corner because every corner is very different here,” he said.
If he can keep producing podium results weekly, it could change the direction originally planned for his career, spending only one season in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires versus two. Notably, the champion receives a scholarship valued for three Verizon IndyCar Series events, including the Indianapolis 500.
“We were thinking more of a two-year program in Indy Lights – get going in the first year, and then get the championship fight started in the second year,” he said. “But since we’re in the lead and have a good amount of pace already, it has to lean more towards trying to get it done this season. But we’re in no rush because we can’t do that this year, I’ve got time on my hands.”
For Herta, he got involved in racing at a young age with his father Bryan Herta’s involvement as an owner.
“The transporter and being around Andretti growing up, it was kind of a like a playground for me,” Colton Herta said. “I obviously wanted to do it, and at five years old, I got the chance to step in a go-kart and loved it. I was hooked right then, and it’s become an expensive hobby.”
Despite having success across Europe over the past couple seasons, he says the most memorable moment was St. Petersburg last month.
“Obviously, there’s a lot of pressure coming back from Europe and not knowing if I could get it done, and we proved to everybody that we can,” he said.
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