Herta: 2023 has been a “less than ideal” start, says they have “great team dynamics” at Andretti

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Colton Herta is 10th in the championship arriving at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but his and Andretti’s history at the venue increases expectations.

Photo credits: Penske Entertainment | Joe Skibinski

The driver of the Gainbridge Honda No. 26 Andretti Autosport, Colton Herta, has not had his best start to a season in his IndyCar career this campaign to date. Herta was the most impressive Andretti driver in the last couple of seasons.

Arriving in the month of May 2021, he had already a pole position and a win. In 2022, he was the most impressive driver at Long Beach on the grid and arguably would have won that Grand Prix if he did not crash his car. This season, Romain Grosjean already has scored two poles, one at the season opener in St. Pete and one at Barber Motorsports Park, and the former F1 star has had two second-place finishes.

His new teammate, ex-Andretti junior driver Kyle Kirkwood, could finish off Long Beach with his maiden pole and win. However, the Californian hasn’t even stepped on the podium.In response to a question from Pit Debrief, Herta says how the relationship between him and his teammates correlates to the performance on the track:“It’s good because the last thing you want inside the team is to get to the point where people are hiding stuff from each other or whatnot. I never really have been part of anything like that.

“Everyone is happy. Ideas are flowing always inside the truck. The biggest thing is everyone is open with each other. They’re transparent. If you ask them a question, they’ll answer it to the best of their ability that they know how instead of leaving some of the good bits out.

“It’s been great team dynamics so far this year.

“It’s been great to have Kyle and Devlin and Romain there. They pick up a lot of the pieces, right, that people kind of I guess before the season have expected upon me. But they’re really savvy with setup and whatnot. Just brings a whole different team dynamic to it that has been great.

“Obviously we’re doing the right thing with fast cars that we’ve had so far. I hope we can just keep it up.”His last win was actually at the Indy Road Course, a victory that will be a year old next Sunday. It is his biggest win drought in IndyCar.

About the start of his particular season, Herta declared:“Yeah, I mean, it’s obviously less than ideal.

“We’ve been in the hunt. Obviously, we know how to win races.

“This weekend’s the best place to start it. Hopefully, we can get a win here.

“But it is annoying to have basically a year without a win.”The IMS Road Course is one of the tracks that Andretti has a great track record at. Last year, both races, in completely different conditions, were won by Andretti drivers: Herta won at a rain-affected GMR GP, and Alexander Rossi won at a dry and uneventful Gallenger GP, in late August.“It’s always been a great race for us. Two podiums and a win there. Obviously have had strong cars in the past. We’ve always qualified well.

“Like we saw, usually is a pretty straightforward three-stopper, unless there is weather, which there might be. But, yeah, looking forward to getting back out there.“We’ve never been slow here. We’ve always had great cars here. Most of the time we’ve been in contention for at least a podium. It’s a place that I feel very comfortable coming to.”One of the differences between this season and his first seasons with Andretti is that Herta doesn’t have his father, ex-CART driver Bryan Herta, as his strategist. At Texas, the team decided to swap the No. 26 and the No. 27 strategy crew. A change that, at first, was not well received by the Californian.But, after a couple of races, Herta had time to adapt:“It hasn’t changed too much. Scott [his new strategist] has been very similar as far as the way he speaks. It’s very clear and whatnot. So it hasn’t been too big of an adjustment with how things have gone so far. It really hasn’t been too big of a difference, to be honest.”When asked if this is the race to step up in the championship, Colton was confident:“For sure. That’s the goal. But it’s so difficult in this series to win a championship without wins. You have to be aggressive, and when there is an opportunity to win you have to really take it. It’s probably the hardest championship in the world as far as going from race to race.

“Everybody has an opportunity to win. The teams are so freaking close, especially this year it seems like obviously Andretti and McLaren have taken a step up. Now there’s really four teams that are just constantly in the fight. You add in all the stragglers that have good cars on the off weekends and whatnot, it makes it super competitive.”

Photo credits: Penske Entertainment | James Black