Colton Herta: “Stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.”
This week, the NTT Indycar Series had unloaded at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. All week, teams have been making practice runs ahead of next week’s Indy 500.
Watch the Indy 500 practice crash video below.
On day one early in the week, Team Penske lined up side by side down the front stretch. It was a photo op and a salute to team and track owner, Roger Penske.
In the case of Team Penske, they did it early in the session as one of the first cars on track.
On Thursday, the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing machines attempted a similar thing. However, they did it as the track was busy.
RLL Racing drivers of Graham Rahal, Takuma Sato and Santino Ferrucci slowed for an what appeared to be a photo opportunity at the finish line. They lined up three wide down the front stretch, forcing those behind to slow.
Scott McLaughlin and Simona De Silvestro weren’t a part of the photo op but they slowed behind the three wide machines. Herta was unaware of the situation as he exited turn four.
Herta approached the slow machines at full speed. He looked to the outside as he closed quickly on the slower cars. He pinched his machine between the outside wall and McLaughlin’s machine.
Light damage was collected but a massive crash was avoided.
Colton Herta comments after the practice crash
“I mean, I’m doing 220, come around the corner and these idiots are doing 170,” Herta told NBC Sports after the crash.
“I don’t know what the hell their goal was there. But, I’m glad that we kinda kept the car in a little bit of one piece.”
“It’s just ridiculous. You can’t slam on the brakes here. I don’t even know, that’s something.”
“It just baffles me that both of them are going side by side at 170mph, taking up the whole track. It’s crazy.”
“It turns out going three-wide for a photo op during IndyCar practice isn’t an ideal situation,” Herta told IndyCar Radio later.
“They’re going 100 mph on the front straight while guys are running 220. Whoever is in charge of that at Rahal is a complete idiot and just risking everybody’s life out there for the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.”
“Luckily, we got away with it easy. The car should be OK. I just pancaked the wall lightly and luckily wasn’t able to take out Scott. We’ll make sure the car is OK. I’m not mad at Scott and Simona. It’s those Rahal guys that completely ruined everything. It’s crazy.”
He added via twitter, “Well that was close, teams doing a good job getting us back out there. Also for anyone giving it to my spotters I’d like to see you react to 100 mph closing speeds. See you all back out there soon.”
Bobby Rahal frustrated with the Indycar penalty
IndyCar officials have penalized Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing for “improper conduct”. All their machines will miss the first 30 minutes of Fast Friday practice.
“Oh really, like the one Roger did the day before? Well, Roger’s team I should say,” Rahal told IndyStar.
“That’s disappointing. We were several hundred yards ahead. It was a pitstop session, that’s what I heard, and it was the first lap. I find that maybe some people should maybe not be in such a rush. Maybe their spotters should be more aware.”
“Two other cars managed to avoid the issue,” he continued. “We were at the start-finish line when it all happened, maybe 500 yards, maybe longer away, and from what I understand, the Team Penske spotter said, ‘Hey, a couple cars are going slower. Just be aware.’ They didn’t have a problem with it.”
“May there have been a better time for us to do it? Sure, but at the same token, it was the first 30 seconds of practice, and you had pitstops going on.”
“My advice would be to look up. I’m not sitting here trying to argue with anybody, cause those are two guys [Herta / McLaughlin] I respect, but at the end of the day, everyone’s cars are coming in and out of pit lane continuously. You’ve gotta be paying a little more attention.”
Rahal concluded, “They can be mad.”