INDIANAPOLIS — Colton Herta gunned it on a wet track restart with 13 minutes to go and passed Pato O’Ward for the lead in a battle between rain tires and dry tires at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Herta was able to pass O’Ward for the lead before another caution after Scott McLaughlin’s Chevrolet spun in the infield.
The decision to use rain tries proved vital for Herta, who was able to get a clean restart on a soaked track on a restart with six minutes left. He went on to win Saturday’s GMR Grand Prix for his first NTT IndyCar Series victory of the season.
Also, it was the first time he has won at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The closing five minutes of the timed race was a battle of drivers trying to hold on to their cars and actually finish the race.
When Juan Pablo Montoya’s Chevrolet stopped on the track with 1:36 left in the race, it guaranteed the contest would end under caution.
It was Herta’s first win of 2022 and the seventh win of his career.
It was a crazy-ending to a weather-plagued day at IMS, but it was also the first true test of the aeroscreen in a rain race.
“It sure helped us a lot to switch to the rain tires,” Herta said. “We gained a lot of positions there. That was awesome.
“It was the hardest race I have ever run. And, thanks to the Hoosiers that stuck around. I love the fans here.”
Herta’s No. 26 Gainbridge Honda at Andretti Autosport finished ahead of Simon Pagenaud’s No. 60 Honda for Meyer Shank Racing. He started 20th.
“I couldn’t see, I could drive at the end,” Pagenaud said. “The car drove really well, but I couldn’t see at the end. It was amazing just to finish the race. It was tricky, really tricky at the end.
“I have run LeMans and Spa in the rain and at night, but at least I could see something. Today, I could not see in the rain.”
Team Penske’s Will Power, who started on the pole but did not lead a lap, finished third in the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet. He takes over the NTT IndyCar Series points lead by 12 over teammate Scott McLaughlin.
“It was so hard to decide whether to go to rain tires or slick tires,” Power said. “You were going to make a mistake if you stayed on slicks. But to finish third, I’m really happy to be on the podium after a mayhem day.
“Congrats to Colton for winning a race like that in these conditions.
“The experience really helped. You could have picked the wrong tire and had a terrible day. It’s usually not fun not racing for a win, but it’s great in the points battle.”
Chip Ganassi Racing driver Marcus Ericsson finished fourth in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda followed by Conor Daly in the No. 20 Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing rookie Christian Lundgaard crashed on the frontstraight shortly after taking the checkered flag.
There were 10 lead changes among six drivers. Herta led 50 laps, the most of any driver in the race followed by Ericsson with 10.
Because of the rain and unusual conditions, there were 471 total passes in the race with the winning taking the checkered flag at an average speed of 90.008.