Colton Herta’s ultimate goal is to finish the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season second in points. He’s currently third, but 69 markers back from Josef Newgarden which means he will now finish no better than third. But, as the year winds down to the season finale on Sunday on the streets of St. Pete, Herta is pleased with how his second year has gone in the most competitive series in the world.
“I’m happy with it,” Herta told me. “I think my focus coming into this year was kind of taking out the rookie mistakes that I had last year. Excluding Iowa, it’s been successful. I’m happy with how the years gone with where we were at the start of the year to now.
“Everyone kept talking about how Andretti was but we kept working on it and got it to the point to where we can kind of operate under. I think we’ve seen it the last couple of weekends.”
Now that we’re to the end of 2020 and he’s happy with how its gone, what about 2021? Some teams that were out of the championship race lately have elected to turn their focus to 2021. I mean, why not? With so few practice session this year, an outlaw on testing and no guarantee 2021 will be any different, it’s smart to work ahead.
Herta said that with their goal to get to P2 in the final standings, they don’t have the luxury to do that yet.
“I’m still focusing on this year,” Herta said of balancing 2020 and looking to the future for 2021. “When you’re fighting for those spots in the championship, it doesn’t really matter where you end up in the standings. You’re kind of just focusing on race wins. I think it’s important. For me, I really want to get to second in the championship so I really can’t think about that yet. I don’t think I really need to.”
Plus, Herta doesn’t want to ruin his momentum. He’s not finished outside the top 10 since those two Iowa race since July. In fact, those are his only instances to where he’s not came away with a top 10 result in 2020. No sense to ruin that, especially when they’re getting better and better from where they started this season.
Also, the goal for 2021 now is to earn more podiums. Herta, has six top five finishes in 2020 and 11 top 10’s. He had three and eight respectively in 2019. The thing is, he’s only had four combined podiums, all of which being wins until a runner up at Indy a few Sunday’s ago.
He improved between 2019 and 2020 in his final championship standing, so if he’s going to do it again in 2021, turning those top fives into podiums is the main focus.
“I think that is kind of the goal,” said Herta. “I really need to turn these fourth and fifth place finishes that we’ve had so often this year and turn them into first, second or third and that will really make the championship. I think if we can get a few wins next year and stack those podiums, I think it can look really good into next year. Just trying to get more podiums.”
Herta is really four spots away from five podiums in 2020. Josef Newgarden has five. That’s the difference and shorting that gap is what he has to do.