Skip to content

Carlos Huertas pulls Houston shocker, wins Race 1 of Shell/Pennzoil GP (VIDEO)

Jun 28, 2014, 6:02 PM EDT

The most anonymous driver of this year’s class of Verizon IndyCar Series rookies is no longer anonymous.

Dale Coyne Racing’s Carlos Huertas, a largely unheralded Colombian driver whose deal to race in IndyCar came together late this past offseason, was able to make a late-race fuel gamble work for him and win Race 1 of the Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston under caution.

When Will Power’s run-in with the Turn 9 tire barriers brought out a yellow with less than half an hour to go in the 1 hour, 50 minute race (IndyCar invoked the time limit after a short delay for rain), both Coyne drivers – Huertas and veteran teammate Justin Wilson – were told to stay out for track position.

At the next restart with 21 minutes left, Wilson had the lead with Huertas running in second ahead of fellow Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya in third. At the time, Wilson hadn’t pitted until Lap 28; Huertas, since Lap 41.

Unfortunately for Wilson, the strategy did not pay off for him as he had to pit for fuel with less than eight minutes to go. That left Huertas defending the lead against Montoya, the former Indy 500 champion.

With four minutes to go, Ryan Briscoe turned Sebastian Saavedra around in Turn 4 to bring out a full-course yellow. The field was given word that there would be just one lap to go when the green flag came out.

But in a shocking turn of events, Graham Rahal – who had been in the middle of a late-race surge into the Top 5 – ran into Tony Kanaan from behind and spun him.

That forced IndyCar to wave off what would have been a wild dash, ensuring that Huertas would win his first IndyCar race in his ninth career start.

“It was always possible,” Huertas said to NBCSN’s Kelli Stavast. “The team did a great job and the races are so long here that you always have a chance to win here if you do the right things at the right time.

“Today was really tough. I was really struggling. I had no pace in the first half of the race, but I reminded myself, ‘Stay calm, do what you have to do.’ The team called it perfectly with the fuel. It was a great day.”

The gamble may not have worked for both of his drivers, but team owner Dale Coyne was glad to hit the jackpot with Huertas.

“Justin needed one more yellow a little bit earlier and we knew it was going to be close,” Coyne said. “But we thought Carlos was in a really good spot. The kid’s been doing better all year and he showed that when you put him at the front, he’ll stay at the front.”

As for Montoya, he made sure to congratulate his fellow Colombian for a job well done in Victory Lane.

“He’s a good kid and he did a good job today,” he said. “He did what he had to do to win…Our Verizon Chevy was really good today and I thought there that we had a chance to win. But at the end, the tires went off.”

With IndyCar issuing a 30-second time penalty for avoidable contact to Rahal (who finished 11th), that elevated a third Colombian driver – Andretti Autosport’s Carlos Huertas – to the final step of the podium.

Between the Houston Race 1 podium and the Colombian national soccer team’s win over Uruguay in the World Cup, no doubt that June 28, 2014 will likely go down to some as “Colombia Day.”

VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES – SHELL/PENNZOIL GRAND PRIX OF HOUSTON
RACE 1, NRG Park
Order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, team-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):
1. (19) Carlos Huertas, Coyne-Honda, 80, Running
2. (11) Juan Pablo Montoya, Penske-Chevy, 80, Running
3. (23) Carlos Munoz, Andretti-Honda, 80, Running
4. (9) Sebastien Bourdais, KVSH-Chevy, 80, Running
5. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Andretti-Honda, 80, Running
6. (21) Jack Hawksworth, Herta-Honda, 80, Running
7. (8) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti-Honda, 80, Running
8. (16) Marco Andretti, Andretti-Honda, 80, Running
9. (2) Helio Castroneves, Penske-Chevy, 80, Running
10. (7) Justin Wilson, Coyne-Honda, 80, Running
11. (14) Graham Rahal, Rahal-Honda, 80, Running
12. (15) Ryan Briscoe, Ganassi-Chevy, 80, Running
13. (22) Tony Kanaan, Ganassi-Chevy, 80, Running
14. (18) Will Power, Penske-Chevy, 79, Running
15. (20) Sebastian Saavedra, KV/AFS-Chevy, 79, Running
16. (1) Simon Pagenaud, Schmidt-Honda, 74, Running
17. (17) Mike Conway, Carpenter-Chevy, 55, Mechanical
18. (13) Charlie Kimball, Ganassi-Chevy, 54, Contact
19. (3) Scott Dixon, Ganassi-Chevy, 46, Contact
20. (12) Josef Newgarden, SFHR-Honda, 41, Mechanical
21. (4) Luca Filippi, Rahal-Honda, 36, Contact
22. (6) Takuma Sato, Foyt-Honda, 32, Contact
23. (10) Mikhail Aleshin, Schmidt-Honda, 31, Contact

Race Statistics
Winners average speed: 70.389 mph
Time of Race: 01:51:25.5649
Margin of victory: 0.0975
Cautions: 6 for 24 laps
Lead changes: 6 among 5 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Pagenaud 1 – 4
Sato 5 – 26
Hinchcliffe 27
Wilson 28
Hinchcliffe 29 – 59
Wilson 60 – 73
Huertas 74 – 80

Point Standings:
Power 386
Castroneves 353
Hunter-Reay 336
Pagenaud 295
Montoya 263
Munoz 262
Andretti 259
Dixon 225
Hinchcliffe 214
Bourdais 212

Latest Posts
  1. Fast Facts: ABC Supply Co. Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest

    Jul 7, 2015, 3:39 PM EDT

    MKEfastfacts Getty Images

    Fast facts heading into this weekend’s ABC Supply Co. Wisconsin 250, courtesy of IndyCar PR staff.

  2. Fernando Alonso takes you inside a simulator (VIDEO)

    Jul 7, 2015, 2:57 PM EDT

    xxxx during the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 5, 2015 in Northampton, England. Getty Images

    Alonso provides a sneak peek at McLaren simulator.

  3. Matt Wallace returning to ARCA at Lucas Oil Raceway

    Jul 7, 2015, 2:28 PM EDT

    Wallace

    The son of Mike Wallace will make his second ARCA start on July 24 at Lucas Oil Raceway.

  4. CFH Racing looks to turn things around once again at Milwaukee

    Jul 7, 2015, 12:53 PM EDT

    Verizon IndyCar Series Firestone 600 Getty Images

    Carpenter and Newgarden look for a rebound similar to the 1-2 finish at Toronto.

  5. Welcome back, Wilson: Englishman back with Andretti for rest of 2015

    Jul 7, 2015, 11:04 AM EDT

    Justin Wilson AP

    Wilson returns for final five IndyCar races of the year with Andretti Autosport.

  6. IndyCar flashback: Power’s dominance at Milwaukee in 2014 (VIDEO)

    Jul 7, 2015, 9:44 AM EDT

    PowerMKEWin AP

    Will Power dominated Milwaukee in 2014. Here’s how he did it.

  7. Coyne drivers Mann, Vautier set to continue in Milwaukee, Iowa

    Jul 6, 2015, 9:04 PM EDT

    PippaTexas Getty Images

    Degree of continuity at Coyne, as Mann and Vautier confirmed for next two short ovals.

  8. Hargrove wins twice more in Porsche GT3 Canada at Calabogie

    Jul 6, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    Photo: IMSA Photo: IMSA

    Scott Hargrove adds two more wins to his record after a one-day sweep of two Porsche races in Canada.

  9. Town or cheese? IndyCar, Indy Lights drivers preview IndyFest (VIDEO)

    Jul 6, 2015, 4:04 PM EDT

    MKEskyline Getty Images

    IndyCar, Indy Lights drivers try to guess towns or cheeses in Wisconsin.

  10. DiZinno: Daytona fence crash ripple effect could extend to other motorsports

    Jul 6, 2015, 2:04 PM EDT

    DillonCrash Getty Images

    The potential ripple effects of Austin Dillon’s catch-fence accident could extend far beyond NASCAR.

  11. Red Bull GRC: Sandell, Dyne deliver Bryan Herta Rallysport first double top-five of year

    Jul 6, 2015, 1:14 PM EDT

    Photo: Bryan Herta Rallysport Photo: Bryan Herta Rallysport

    Sandell, Dyne make it a double top-five for Bryan Herta Rallysport at MCAS New River.

  12. Williams was damned if it did, damned if it didn’t execute team orders on Sunday

    Jul 6, 2015, 11:19 AM EDT

    WilliamsSilverstone Getty Images

    Leading 1-2 early, Williams was almost trapped, rather than able to seize its moment in Silverstone.

  13. Raikkonen drops to P8 in British GP after strategy error

    Jul 6, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    Ferrari's Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen skids off during the British Formula One Grand Prix at the Silverstone circuit in Silverstone on July 5, 2015.       AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL        (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    A gamble on intermediate tires backfires for Kimi Raikkonen at Silverstone.

  14. Race Recap: Hamilton sees off early Williams threat and late rain shower to claim third home victory

    Jul 6, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team's British driver Lewis Hamilton (L) holds the trophy as he walks in the pits after winning the British Formula One Grand Prix at the Silverstone circuit in Silverstone on July 5, 2015.  
 AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL        (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The British driver sends the home crowd into raptures with his third Silverstone victory.

  15. Ten with Townsend: Red Bull GRC 4 races in, post-MCAS New River

    Jul 6, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    GRCDaytona Getty Images

    After the latest Red Bull GRC round, we catch up with NBC Sports Group motorsports analyst Townsend Bell for a special Red Bull GRC installment of “Ten with Townsend.”

  16. Smiling Through the Rain: Silverstone proved that it isn’t all doom and gloom in F1

    Jul 6, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 05:  Fans cheer Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP after his victory in the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 5, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Luke Smith gets a little patriotic following his home grand prix, explaining why F1 could stand to be a little more British in its mentality.

  17. Ken Block seizes opportunity, wins Red Bull GRC at MCAS New River

    Jul 5, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT

    BlockMCASwin Getty Images

    Block wins at MCAS New River, Round 4 of the Red Bull GRC season.

  18. FIA stewards take no action over five-car incident on first lap of British Grand Prix

    Jul 5, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    xxxx during the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 5, 2015 in Northampton, England. Getty Images

    Grosjean, Ricciardo, Maldonado, Alonso and Button all cleared of any wrongdoing after first lap incident.