ST. PETERSBURG, Florida – Colton Herta rewrote Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires history books today by becoming the series’ youngest in Race 2 of the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
The son of Bryan Herta, the retired Indy car driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series team owner, started from the pole in the race and led all 45 laps, holding off Santi Urrutia by 1.7797 seconds. At 16 years, 11 months, 21 days, he becomes the youngest race winner in Indy Lights history.
Three full-course yellows in the opening 30 minutes slowed the action and allowed Urrutia to stay close to the rear wing of Herta’s No. 98 Deltro Energy Dallara IL-15, but the Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing driver had none of it.
“It’s amazing to come back from (racing in) Europe and into the INDYCAR paddock and be winning right away,” said Herta, who raced in the EuroFormula Open F3 and British Formula 3 series last year. “It’s a good start and we’re going to keep it rolling.”
Herta admitted he was a little nervous given Urrutia's experience in Indy Lights. The Belardi Auto Racing driver finished second in the 2016 Indy Lights championship.
“He’s probably the toughest person out here right now,” said Herta, who finished second in his series debut Saturday. “Most of us are rookies and he knows the tires, he knows the car when it’s all cold. For sure, it was hard to hold him off but we ended up doing it and had a little bit of a gap at the end.”
Urrutia claimed his fourth career second-place finish. Pato O’Ward (No. 3 Team Pelfrey Topo Chico) topped off his debut weekend with a podium finish in third. Kyle Kaiser (No. 18 Juncos Racing) finished fourth and Race 1 winner Aaron Telitz (No. 9 Soul Red Mazda) rounded out the top five.
Indy Lights is in action next with another doubleheader weekend April 21-23 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.
Martin completes St. Pete Pro Mazda sweep
Anthony Martin completed a clean sweep of the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires opening doubleheader at St. Petersburg.
The race was nearly a carbon copy of Saturday, with Martin (No. 8 Soul Red Mazda for Cape Motorsports) leading Brazilian Victor Franzoni (No. 23 Juncos Racing Mazda) to the green flag. The Australian’s lead ebbed and flowed over the course of the 30-lap event, but Martin kept Franzoni cleanly in his mirrors and survived a late restart to take the win by 1.0259 seconds.
“Clean sweep for the boys!” said Martin, who moved up to Pro Mazda after winning the 2016 Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda championship. “It means a lot for the Cape Motorsport boys. They did a lot to get the Soul Red Mazda up on top.
“That race was difficult. I was looking after the Cooper tires, trying to keep them on the car. I think the car was perfect and the Cooper tires stayed on there the whole race.”
Pro Mazda takes a two-month break before returning to action at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course for a doubleheader weekend May 11-13.