In exactly one season Colton Herta has equaled Marco Andretti’s career win total. That’s only two wins but it’s massively impressive for the young Herta. Not so much for Marco and his career “legacy” if you will.
Marco has been in the IndyCar series since 2006, that’s 14 years, 234 races and he has exactly 2 wins in that time. He wins .8% of the time he enters and IndyCar race, you don’t even have to understand math to know that’s a bad winning percentage.
On the other side, Colton has 2 wins in 18 starts (started the 2018 finale). His win percentage is 11% currently. Herta also has 3 poles in one season to Andretti’s 5 career poles and his upside appears to be greater than what Andretti’s was all the way back in 2006.
So what went wrong with Marco?
Think way back to 2006, you might have to blow off some files, find that CD-R you stored the old clips and stats on but when you do you’ll remember the spectacle that was Marco Andretti his rookie year. The third-generation racer came into the IndyCar Series as the already appointed “next superstar” and that right there is what doomed Marco Andretti.
His season started off with back to back DNFs followed up by a mediocre showing in Motegi. However, when the series showed up at Indianapolis Marco channeled his inner Andretti and immediately showed his skill around the speedway. Everyone remembers his rookie year at the speedway. He damn near won, he thought he won, Rusty Wallace thought he was going to win. Instead, Andretti somehow let Sam Hornish get just close enough to snag victory at the line and continue the Andretti curse at the speedway.
The rest of Marco’s rookie season was a lot like Herta’s this season. A roller coaster basically that resulted in a win at the penultimate round of the championship at Sonoma. His season showed a lot of promise but ultimately he has only won one more race since that fall date at Sonoma. He scored a win at Iowa in 2011. Since then he has been winless and only finished on the podium 7 times since that night at Iowa.
Marco has the skillset to be a consistent winner in IndyCar. Somewhere along the way, he got lost a little. Whether that’s the setup, the engineers, the team, something just never worked out for Marco. It’s a shame too because he’s money at the speedway he just hasn’t been able to put together a complete race since 2006.
How is Herta different?
Great question astute reader of the blog. Herta certainly appears to have a bigger upside at the end of his rookie campaign than Andretti. His two wins this season came after winning the pole, he has the raw speed to put himself in position to win. But he’s done one thing at the end of the season that suggests his upside trajectory will only continue to rise.
Herta took pole at Portland and had the speed to win. However, he burned the tires right off the car and finished 4th. Meanwhile, Will Power took the win knowing Herta was going to drive the tires off the car. He handed a win away at Portland because he didn’t have the knowledge the veterans have when it came to tire management.
Flash forward to the next race at Laguna Seca and once again Herta got the pole. Except for this time, he didn’t burn the tires off the car. In the three week span between races, he learned from his mistake. He didn’t kill the tires at Laguna, instead, he managed them, he managed his fuel, and he held off Will Power at the end.
That is why Herta is going to be better than Andretti if he already isn’t. His ability to learn, adapt, and progress is key to continuing this upward trajectory. Next season he moves in-house at Andretti Autosport which can only help his development. A championship run might not be in the cards next year but multiple wins should be.
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