Colton Herta’s weekend ended abruptly with 30 laps left of the Long Beach Grand Prix. The Southern California native won the Long Beach GP in September of last year and expressed his love of the track and what makes it special to him during the post-qualifying press conference.
“I think just cause I grew up around here,” said Herta. “It was my first IndyCar race, it’s kind of the race that made me fall in love with IndyCar racing growing up.”
Herta looked poised to win until he hit the wall around turn 9 in lap 55. Herta had a commanding lead holding gaps of 1.5 over Newgarden. Palou pitted in lap 28 for used blacks for an undercut on Newgarden and Herta. Newgarden and Herta both pitted on lap 30, and coming out of the pits, Newgarden had the advantage over Herta. The Gainsbridge driver spent 25 laps attempting to overtake Newgarden, but couldn’t close the gap.
With 30 laps to go, Herta lost it into the wall and ended his weekend. In a post-race interview with NBC, he said, “It’s just a stupid mistake, we were definitely in that thing. We were running good up in third keep up with Josef [Newgarden] and Alex [Palou].”
What could’ve been a stellar second win on the streets of Long Beach turned into a weekend to forget for the American driver.
Romain Grosjean started the weekend similarly to Herta, topping the second practice session of the weekend. Grosjean made it into the Firestone Fast 6, but after setting the second-quickest lap of the session he hit the barrier at turn 5 with only 2 seconds left to go. He automatically lost his lap times for causing a red flag and ended up qualifying 6th.
Grosjean managed his race well, capitalizing on the chaos that occurred in front of him. After pitting for sticker red alternate tires on Lap 56, he had better grip than Newgarden and Palou in front of him and was able to overtake the Spanish driver on lap 70.
Grosjean made a few attempts to pass Newgarden for the lead, but couldn’t make anything stick before Takuma Sato hit the tire barrier on lap 84, which ended the race.
“I really wanted to go for the win today, but we were just a little bit shy, off maybe by a couple of laps,” said Grosjean in the post-race press conference. “I’m happy to get my first podium with Andretti wearing the DHL colors. Feels good to be back on the podium. ”
With his first podium of the season, Grosjean is now 6th in the championship as they head to Alabama the weekend of May 1.
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