During Indycar’s fourth practice session in the run up to the 105th Indianapolis 500 on Thursday, a bone-headed move by the three-car effort of Rahal Letterman Lanigan caused Andretti’s Colton Herta to run into the wall at a high rate of speed, bouncing off of Penske’s Scott McLaughlin. Thankfully nobody was injured and all cars involved managed to continue on without serious damage, but it was a real close call that could have ended way worse. So what did Graham Rahal, Takuma Sato, and Santino Ferrucci do? They slowed to a crawl on the front stretch for a photo op running three abreast across the yard of bricks. Yikes!
While photo ops like this aren’t unprecedented, it seems like the Andretti team either didn’t hear the notification that something like this would happen, or the RLL team didn’t send one. Coming up on slowing cars at Indy while you’re running full chat isn’t ideal, but thankfully Colton Herta was able to think on his feet and run into a gap where nobody was.
In an interview shortly after the incident with IndyCar Radio, Herta had this to say: “It turns out going three wide for a photo op isn’t a good idea... They’re going 100 miles an hour on the front straight while other cars are going 220.”
He also mentioned his thinking when he went to the outside of McLaughlin (who at the same time had Simona de Silvestro to the inside of him), and frankly that could have been the quick thinking that saved both of their asses. “I didn’t think I could get to the left there, so I saw a little bit of a lane and I was hoping that Scott’s spotter would tell him and luckily he did. He moved over about half a lane there at the last second.”
You can check out a replay of the incident here. It’s really sketchy, and I’m so thankful nobody was hurt.
Whoever greenlit this idea for the Rahal team probably shouldn’t be making those kinds of choices. It’s odd that spotters didn’t catch it earlier, either Rahal spotters letting the drivers know Herta was on a flyer, or Herta’s spotter letting him know the Rahal drivers were brake checking on the straight. This could have been a lot worse.