INDYCAR race winner Colton Herta has signed an extension to remain with Andretti Autosport through 2027. With continued support from Gainbridge, a Group 1001 company, through a concurrent extension, Herta will pilot the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda in the 2023 NTT INDYCAR season – and beyond.
“We’re really pleased to confirm that Colton and Gainbridge will remain with Andretti Autosport for years to come,” said the team’s Chairman and CEO Michael Andretti. “Colton is a true talent in a race car and has natural determination that makes him want to win. He’s a strong competitor and a good teammate. I’m looking forward to seeing what Colton and Andretti can continue to achieve together.”
“We’ve been really proud to represent Gainbridge, and to have given them their first racing victory with Colton in 2020 — and four more since,” added Andretti. “On and off the track we share a commitment to compete at the top level and look forward to seeing Colton return to victory lane in the yellow and black Gainbridge colors.”
“Gainbridge is proud to continue its successful relationship with Andretti through this new contract extension with Colton. We have high hopes for both Colton and Gainbridge and believe they’re destined to become household names,” said Dan Towriss, CEO and President of Group 1001, the parent company of Gainbridge. “With his natural talent and winning spirit, Colton won’t stop until he changes the landscape of racing. He’s the perfect representative for Gainbridge, who is changing the landscape of financial services.”
Herta first joined Andretti in 2020 after a breakout rookie season in 2019 where he claimed — and retains — the title of youngest driver to win an INDYCAR race. The 2023 season will mark Herta’s fifth year of NTT INDYCAR SERIES competition and marks the fifth year of sponsorship for Gainbridge, and a sixth season overall for Group 1001. Group 1001, through its Gainbridge brand, has partnered with Andretti since 2018 to bring awareness to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES while working towards its mission to inspire STEM learning and career exploration. Together, Andretti, Herta and Gainbridge have captured six pole position starts and five INDYCAR wins. Prior to his INDYCAR debut, Herta collected 65 Indy Lights race starts with Andretti.
“I’m super happy and grateful for everything the entire Andretti and Gainbridge teams have done for me,” said Herta. “This is a huge step for me professionally and I’m so glad it can be with a top team like Andretti Autosport. We have big goals and a lot of work ahead of us, but I can’t be happier to do it with this team and represent Gainbridge!”
Herta will join teammates Romain Grosjean (No. 28 DHL Honda), Kyle Kirkwood (No. 27 AutoNation Honda) and Devlin DeFrancesco (No. 29 Andretti Steinbrenner Honda) as the 2023 INDYCAR campaign kicks off March 5 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.
With Value So High, Herta Still Doesn’t Test Open Market
This is the second straight contract negotiation period that Colton Herta never tested the market. The last one, he signed a deal during the non negotiation phase. See, he was under contract originally with Andretti and once that deal was coming to a close, instead of testing the open market, Herta signed the deal that he’s currently on before the window even opened to talk to other teams.
Now, with Herta’s rise never being as high as it’s been, one that seen him linked to several F1 teams as well as having potential seats open here for 2024 with Chip Ganassi Racing as well as Will Power operating on his final year of his contract next season with Team Penske, Herta could cash in when negotiating his next deal and maybe landed with a Ganassi or Penske team.
That combination has won all but one series championship since 2008 including 10 straight.
Instead, this is a massive win for Andretti because Herta never let it get that far and signed an extension with the organization for another four years on top of his final year that he was already in.
“Andretti has done a lot for me,” Herta told me after he signed his last contract on if this deal shows his commitment to the team that he didn’t want to let his contract run out and see his worth on the free agent market. “It feels good to be appreciated in what you do and to have the confidence from them. It does make me happy that I got to come back to a team that I know. It goes back to 2004 from when my dad was here. It does feel like home for me and a part of me will always be with Andretti no matter where I’m driving.
“I felt so comfortable with Andretti I’m not sure I really even wanted to hear from other teams. I never wanted to leave.”
Herta Never Wavered His Commitment, Feels Like Andretti Is A Place He Can Win Championships
With Andretti Autosport having a down year in 2022, that’s a part of the reason as to why Herta’s not in F1. They’ve not given him good enough cars on a consistent basis to compete for championships which in turn have cost him points finishes which as a result of that, kept him from scoring enough super license points to where he could have landed with McLaren or Alpha Tauri.
Herta has never wavered his commitment to the team though. He was high on them last time and still harnesses those feelings.
“I’m quick in the position that I’m in,” he said the last time out. “I have good pit stops. I have good race cars. I don’t see a reason to leave when I have all that. They put me in a great position where I can win everywhere we go and that’s the most important thing to me. I think that with this team with the setups that they use I know what’s going to happen every single race weekend.
“The goal is always the same to win the ‘500 and the championship each year. We’ve got to have speed and we’ve definitely shown to have speed.”
Andretti Now Herta’s Team
While Colton Herta has transitioned into Andretti’s lead driver of sorts, he still always operated in the shadows of Ryan Hunter-Reay or James Hinchcliffe or Marco Andretti or even Alexander Rossi. See, Andretti Autosport was mostly Hunter-Reay’s team from a span between 2011 and 2017 range. Then it transitioned to Rossi’s.
With an Indy 500 under his belt and a title threat, Rossi became arguably Andretti’s lead driver. He was the face of this team. Herta has since threatened to become that and while Rossi struggled over the final years of his contract with them, one could say it was almost split between the two.
Now there’s no doubt, this is Herta’s team. Can he lead them?
People forget that Herta is just 22-years old. That’s it. However, with a pair of second year drivers with the team for 2023 as well as a third year driver in Romain Grosjean, Herta is now the face of this organization.
He has 7 career series wins. The other three have combined for none. With Gainbridge back too and being on Herta’s car, this 26 entry with Herta behind the wheel is the new face of Andretti Autosport.
The keys to the entire organization are in the hands of a 22-year old. That creates pressure and that’s something that Herta has sometimes caved under.
Just look at how many situations to where he had a race winning car and he pushed too hard. Nashville in 2021 and Long Beach this year come to mind.
Then there’s times his car broke while leading including Gateway in 2021 and the Gallagher Grand Prix this year. Or bad pit spots like Mid-Ohio last year or a bad pit call like Mid-Ohio this year.
Reality is, Herta and his 26 team have to be flawless and clean up these mistakes.