Colton Herta Wins Freedom 100 At Indianapolis

by Paul Gohde

Second-generation driver Colton Herta survived a 40-lap race with an event record 20 lead changes to win the Indy Lights Freedom 100 Friday on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval.

Herta, who started sixth, got to “Kiss the Bricks” after a race-long battle with runner-up Pato O’Ward and third-place Dalton Kellett who started on the pole, but said he enjoyed the experience. “I got to do the bricks when my dad (Bryan Herta) was involved in a win here. I didn’t know how cool it would be until I earned it,” the 18-year-old noted. “They taste like brick.”

Santi Urritia finished fourth but led going into the final laps as the leaders scrambled for position. “I positioned myself for the final run and got a nice tow from Colton on the final lap,” explained O’Ward, who, along with Urrutia, was bunched-up going for the lead with four others coming out of the final turn.”

Kellett led the most laps (17) and ran third for the third straight year but seemed happy with that result. “That was a super-exciting thirty-minutes. I held back at the beginning to see how the race would flow,” noted the pole-winner, “but we were really dicing to make it to the end.”

‘It was a race where you had to be in the right place at the right time at the end. It was tough on the leaders as those behind could blow right past you due to dirty air,” explained the winner. “It was hair-raising once those tires got warmed up.”

And what “right place” might the Andretti-Steinbrenner team end up in come next season? “If we win the (Indy Lights) championship we’re going Indy Car racing.”

Team owner George Michael Steinbrenner seemed to agree with that, but cautioned that, “this (win) was awesome and that’s a goal we’re setting, but we have to do it right both logistically and financially.”

• NOTES: The previous record for lead changes was nine but is now 20…Andretti teams swept the top three finishing spots…the rapid pace saw the race average zoom to 191.422 mph as the 100-mile race took just over 31 minutes to complete… Dalton Kellett finished third but led 17 laps vs. the winner’s ten.

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Paul Gohde heard the sound of race cars early in his life.

Growing up in suburban Milwaukee, just north of Wisconsin State Fair Park in the 1950’s, Paul had no idea what “that noise” was all about that he heard several times a year. Finally, through prodding by friends of his parents, he was taken to several Thursday night modified stock car races on the old quarter-mile dirt track that was in the infield of the one-mile oval -and he was hooked.

The first Milwaukee Mile event that he attended was the 1959 Rex Mays Classic won by Johnny Thomson in the pink Racing Associates lay-down Offy built by the legendary Lujie Lesovsky. After the 100-miler Gohde got the winner’s autograph in the pits, something he couldn’t do when he saw Hank Aaron hit a home run at County Stadium, and, again, he was hooked.

Paul began attending the Indianapolis 500 in 1961, and saw A. J. Foyt’s first Indy win. He began covering races in 1965 for Racing Wheels newspaper in Vancouver, WA as a reporter/photographer and his first credentialed race was Jim Clark’s historic Indy win.Paul has also done reporting, columns and photography for Midwest Racing News since the mid-sixties, with the 1967 Hoosier 100 being his first big race to report for them.

He is a retired middle-grade teacher, an avid collector of vintage racing memorabilia, and a tour guide at Miller Park. Paul loves to explore abandoned race tracks both here and in Europe, with the Brooklands track in Weybridge England being his favorite. Married to Paula, they have three adult children and two cats.

Paul loves the diversity of all types of racing, “a factor that got me hooked in the first place.”