Colton Herta turned the third pole position of his NTT IndyCar Series career into his second victory to become the first winner of the return of North America’s premier open-wheel championship to California’s Central Coast and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
Driving for Harding Steinbrenner Racing in its final event as an independent team before merging with Andretti Autosport in 2020, Herta led 83 of 90 laps. The 19-year-old only relinquished control of the race to a select few fellow frontrunners during three critical rounds of green-flag pit stops.
Scott Dixon shared the front row with Herta for the start of the first IndyCar race in Monterey since 2004 and chased the teenager down early before later fielding pressure from a surging Simon Pagenaud who needed a win and less-than-stellar finish from points leader Josef Newgarden to pair a second title with his Indianapolis 500 triumph in May.
As one of three drivers to start on Firestone’s black-sidewalled primary tire offering, Will Power surfaced in second as Herta’s new challenger for the final third of the race.
Power sped by the final checkered flag of 2019 half a second in arrears of Herta who won for his first time since Power’s misfortune at Circuit of The Americas gifted the then-18-year-old his first race win during the season’s second race in March.
Dixon came home third, winning a duel between himself and Pagenaud by just 0.1141 seconds.
Another veteran in Dale Coyne Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais struggled with neck pain throughout the finale weekend but joined 14th-place starter Felix Rosenqvist in making up a significant number of positions. While Bourdais started 19th and finished seventh, Rosenqvist passed nine cars to land in the top five in the race and sixth in the points, beating Herta to NTT Rookie of the Year honors by one position.
Bourdais split Alexander Rossi from Newgarden on the final results with Rossi’s non-threatening race culminating in a sixth-place finish and Newgarden’s safe drive with the championship in mind leading the No. 2 Hitachi Chevrolet to the eighth row of the running order. Newgarden was successful in capturing his second IndyCar championship while his Team Penske stablemate Pagenaud leapfrogged Rossi in the final points standings for second.
Ryan Hunter-Reay showed speed throughout the weekend and lost one position during the race to translate his ninth-place start into his 10th top-10 finish of 2019.
The lead changed seven times among three drivers, factoring into a total passes count of 160, 145 of which were for position.
A six-month offseason is ahead for the teams and drivers of IndyCar before the 2020 campaign begins March 13–15, 2020 on the streets of St. Petersburg.