INDIANAPOLIS – Star rookie Colton Herta’s Indianapolis 500 came to a heartbreaking end after just five laps on Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as a mechanical failure took him out of The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
Herta, who was both the fastest rookie and the fastest Honda-powered driver in the field after qualifying fifth for his maiden 500, appeared to be struggling early on the initial start.
It didn’t take long for those struggles to make themselves known loudly, as Herta slowed with gearbox malfunctions, unable to shift into high gear and maintain pace.
He eventually stalled on track, unable to get back to pit road and forcing the first caution of the race.
“I couldn’t get (up) to sixth, so it was stuck in fifth gear the whole time,” lamented Herta. “Just sitting there, I knew it was going to be a long day after that, having to ride around in fifth gear for the whole time. Then we lost gear pressure in it, and it didn’t want to change gears.
“I went down to fourth, and back up to fifth a few times … and it completely depleted it. There was nothing left, and I couldn’t get it into neutral,” Herta added. “That’s why I had to put it on the flat and couldn’t get back (to pit road). It’s heartbreaking, for sure. I thought we’d have a shot at it today.”
Herta was the first retirement of Sunday’s race and finished last in the 33-car field.
Since his breakthrough NTT IndyCar Series win at Circuit of the Americas in March as an 18-year-old, Herta has failed to finish the last four races – two from crashes and two from mechanical failures.
Now, the talented teenager will look to reset during the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix at Belle Isle Park, June 1-2.