INDIANAPOLIS — The last time the NTT INDYCAR Series was on the 2.439-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, Colton Herta was crossing the rain logged Yard of Bricks first in his No. 26 Dallara-Honda. Now, almost 7 weeks later, he’s back with the moisture of a different kind, via sweat pouring down his face after climbing out of his Gainbridge sponsored car this afternoon.
“It’s great. It’s always amazing to come here,” he said on a warm afternoon in Indianapolis. “It’s really cool even when nobody is here. Just to run laps. It’s pretty awesome.”
Herta said this morning’s session was more about baselines as they didn’t even use the tires that would be used on the race weekend yet. However, despite being the last driver to win on the road course, he feels like July’s Gallagher Grand Prix (12 p.m. ET, NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network) will look a lot different.
“I’d imagine no rain so it’s going to be a very different race,” he said. “Trying to get an understanding of what it’s going to be like. I imagine it’s going to be even hotter than it would be today.
“We’re working through changes because we want to see what things are like in hot conditions because we know what they were like when it was colder.”
Which is why as he says, it was a good thing the test in the spring was postponed.
“I guess it’s a good thing because it was going to be in the wet (in May) so it didn’t matter what it was going to be like in the test,” he says. “This is probably a better representation of what we’ll have race weekend and a better test for that.”
His teammate Romain Grosjean was battling problems with his car in the first session which forced a lot of work this afternoon.
“That was the exact idea to come out here on a hot day,” he said. “It’s getting hot conditions in. When it’s cool we’ve been very competitive but when it’s hot we’ve been struggling a bit more.”
While Herta was glad the test in the spring didn’t pan out, Grosjean though wasn’t. See, this is his 1st year with Andretti Autosport and having more laps early would have helped him get up to speed with them quicker.
“Honestly I wish we had more tests early in the season especially in joining a new team,” he told me. “It would have been nice to get some early laps.”
That plus bad luck has cost him. He sits 12th in the points standings after 8 races run. He was 23rd at this time a year ago but that’s also partially because he didn’t run in the Indianapolis 500 (double points) too.
“Oh no. No way yet,” Grosjean told me on if he’s met expectations yet for 2022. “We’ve had rough luck. Texas and here in the GMR Grand Prix. The Indy 500 didn’t come out way. The Detroit weekend you can put on me. So no really not where we really wanted. But there’s a second half left.”
Herta also says that they’ve failed to deliver too he feels.
“I think the year so far has been pretty underwhelming for me,” he told me. “I was expecting obviously a race win which we have but a little more consistent finishes which we don’t have. It’s kind of something that we’re trying to get together for the 2nd half of the season. Obviously we haven’t had the best of luck so it’s a group effort that we need to come together and make it happen.”
Grosjean also still says the Indy 500 irks him. A race that saw him start in the 3rd Row, he crashed out on Lap 105 and finished 31st.
“I’m still very annoyed with it,” he said. “I’ve been watching on boards and trying to understand and I think we just didn’t have the car. It’s hard for me to know what I need in the Indy 500 but I know I don’t want that car again.”