Indy Lights: Herta wins Freedom 100, leads Andretti Autosport 1-2-3
Colton Herta clinched his third straight victory in the 2018 Indy Lights championship by clinching the Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after a fraught battle with teammates Patricio O'Ward, Dalton Kellett and Belardi's Santi Urrutia.
At the end of the first lap, Dalton Kellett’s pole-winning Andretti Autosport entry led Juncos Racing’s Victor Franzoni, up from fourth on the grid, while Ryan Norman lay third ahead of Pato O’Ward and Colton Herta in three more Andretti cars.
But at the start of the third lap, Franzoni went to make a pass for the lead, couldn’t complete it and so he and Kellett started coming under pressure from Norman.
Two laps later, Kellett had pulled away once more, and the group had been joined by Herta, who had the Andretti Steinbrenner Racing entry into second. On Lap 6, he took the lead but he couldn’t make a break and Kellett drafted him up the inside for the lead again on Lap 7.
Back and forth went the lead, with all but novice Davey Hamilton Jr. in close attendance, as Franzoni, Santi Urrutia of Belardi Auto Racing and Pato O’Ward all squabbled over third place.
At the end of Lap 16, Urrutia had passed both Kellett and Herta, but his advantage lasted for just half a lap, the three soon running in convoy, while Franzoni had to pit from fourth with a mechanical issue, leaving O’Ward a clear shot at the top three.
That trio went three-wide down the front straight at the start of Lap 26 as Herta pulled to the outside and – eventually and only briefly – took the lead. The battle gave O’Ward the chance to draw up and make it a four-way contest. That in turn brought Aaron Telitz in the second Belardi entry and Norman a little closer.
O’Ward led for the first time on Lap 34, but Urrutia was back ahead the following time past the yard of bricks, and then it was Herta who led on Lap 37.
Into the 39th lap, Herta was still ahead but he was passed by Urrutia and O’Ward, then got back in front and theoretically was vulnerable to drafting up the front straight to the checkered flag. However, Herta clung on and O’Ward fell 0.0281sec short, with Kellett just a further 0.1219sec adrift.
Urrutia was fourth ahead of Norman, who thus made it an Andretti Autosport 1-2-3-5.
Combined with his two victories on the IMS road course, Herta thus delivered his third straight win and moved to the top of the points standings.
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