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Colton Herta
No. 4: Herta Wins Wet, Wild GMR Grand Prix

Note: The editorial staff at IMS.com is taking a look back at the 10 biggest moments of 2022 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in this year-end series, with one installment appearing on the site per day in countdown fashion from Dec. 22-31. 

Colton Herta weathered the storm to claim victory in a wet and wild GMR Grand Prix on May 14 on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The ever-changing conditions led to chaos on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn IMS road course, with numerous incidents and evolving tire strategies. In the end, though, it was Andretti Autosport’s No. 26 Gainbridge Honda of Herta rising from a 14th-place starting position to capture his seventh career win in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. It marked the first win of the season for a Honda-powered driver.

The race, originally scheduled for 85 laps but slowed by numerous incidents and the arrival of rain near the midway point, reached its two-hour time limit during a caution period.

“This is the hardest race I think I’ve ever done,” Herta said. “Wet to dry, dry back to wet. Thank you so much for the Hoosiers for sticking around. I know you’re used to this weather, so thank you very much. Love you guys.”

Simon Pagenaud delivered an admirable drive, charging from 20th on the grid to score the runner-up result – a season best – in the No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda. NTT P1 Award winner Will Power finished third in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, climbing into the series points lead.

Marcus Ericsson drove from 18th at the start to end up fourth in the No. 8 HuskiChocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, with Indianapolis native Conor Daly finishing a season-best fifth in the No. 20 BitNile Chevrolet.

“I’ve never been in a race like that in my life,” Daly said. “That was the craziest thing I’ve ever experienced.”

The treacherous contest featured eight caution periods for 31 laps, with six drivers finding the top spot and amassing 10 lead changes.

Rain sprinkles caused the race start to be declared wet, with all drivers on Firestone grooved tires. However, it only took two laps for the likes of Herta and Takuma Sato to gauge the traction level was plenty poised for swap to the Firestone alternate (red sidewall) tires. The rest of the 27-car field quickly followed, with all competitors on the same compound by Lap 5.

The race remained relatively conventional over the next 30 laps, with three cautions triggered by incidents and shuffling the running order. That changed, though, as strategic mind games began after Dalton Kellett’s No. 4 K-LINE/AJ FOYT RACING Chevrolet spun off course in Turn 6 on Lap 36.

Dark clouds rolled into IMS from the west and ignited a game of chess atop the timing stands.

The Andretti Autosport duo of rookie Devlin DeFrancesco and Alexander Rossi, along with reigning series champion Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing darted for pit lane for Firestone rain tires, with others following during the next caution on Lap 42.

It proved to be the wrong call for many as the rain eased by Lap 45 as Herta passed Ericsson for the lead in Turn 4.

The intermittent conditions continued to be an annoyance for drivers and teams for the next 17 laps. However, the clouds ripped open on Lap 62 and turned IMS into a waterpark as hard rain fell from the dark skies.

At this point, Pato O’Ward, Scott McLaughlin and Romain Grosjean remained on the alternate slicks and in optimism the conditions would let up and give them the advantage over the rest of the field that were swapped to rain tires. Ultimately, it proved to be the wrong call for the trio as Herta waded through a Lap 66 restart and made quick work of O’Ward with an inside pass into Turn 1 en route to victory.

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