Skip to content

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

Jun 28, 2014, 6:02 PM EST

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. Button: 100 laps felt like 1,000 to McLaren on Friday

    Feb 28, 2015, 10:00 AM EST

    Button 282 Getty Images

    British driver delighted with breakthrough after a miserable winter testing programme.

  2. Happy 75th birthday to one of the best ever, Mario Andretti

    Feb 28, 2015, 9:00 AM EST

    Indianapolis 500 Parade Getty Images

    We wish Mario Andretti, one of the all-time greats, a happy 75th birthday.

  3. Manor Marussia “very close” to racing in Australian GP

    Feb 28, 2015, 8:00 AM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Russia - Qualifying Getty Images

    Team founder John Booth is confident that the revived outfit will race in the Australian Grand Prix on March 15.

  4. IndyCar: Drivers, stars appear in Indy, LA, Detroit, Milwaukee for “Focus” premiere (PHOTOS)

    Feb 27, 2015, 7:00 PM EST

    WillSmithFocus AP

    IndyCar drivers hit several race markets for “Focus” premieres.

  5. #AirJosef: Newgarden tests out his dunking skills with Pacers Power Pack (VIDEO)

    Feb 27, 2015, 5:00 PM EST

    Josef Newgarden Josef Newgarden

    How well does Josef Newgarden dunk? Find out in video he does with Indiana Pacers “Power Pack.”

  6. GP2: Nathanael Berthon returns with Lazarus for 2015

    Feb 27, 2015, 4:30 PM EST

    © GP3 Series © GP3 Series

    French driver set for a fourth season in GP2 this year with Lazarus.

  7. Barcelona F1 2nd Test Paddock Notebook – Friday

    Feb 27, 2015, 3:30 PM EST

    Vettel 272 Getty Images

    All of the latest news, reports and features from the paddock in Barcelona.

  8. Ganassi set to honor heroes at Indy Honor Flight event this weekend

    Feb 27, 2015, 3:00 PM EST

    CGRRolex15win AP

    Indy Honor Flight event to be held at CGR shop in Indianapolis on Saturday.

  9. Massa calls for perspective on Alonso crash

    Feb 27, 2015, 2:30 PM EST

    Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Massa says that the main thing is that Alonso is okay and unhurt following his hefty crash in testing last week.

  10. Verstappen pleased with testing pace, new upgrades

    Feb 27, 2015, 2:00 PM EST

    Verstappen 272a Getty Images

    17-year-old has just one day of testing left before making his F1 debut in Australia.

  11. MRTI: Aitken, Jamin emerge as last-minute Cooper Tires Winterfest champions

    Feb 27, 2015, 1:30 PM EST

    Photo: USF2000 Photo: USF2000

    Champions emerge on in a cold finale to 2015 Cooper Tires Winterfest.

  12. Hulkenberg: Gap to field will become clear in Melbourne

    Feb 27, 2015, 1:15 PM EST

    HulkPorsche2 Getty Images

    First run for the VJM08 was “remarkable”, but there is still plenty to be caught up with at Force India.

  13. Rosberg struggling with setup despite posting fastest time in Barcelona

    Feb 27, 2015, 1:00 PM EST

    Nico Rosberg AP

    German driver not happy with the setup on his W06 Hybrid despite posting the fastest time of winter testing so far in Barcelona.

  14. Rosberg quickest as Mercedes shows its hand on day two

    Feb 27, 2015, 12:01 PM EST

    F1 Testing In Barcelona - Day Two Getty Images

    The German team finally goes quickest in testing, sending a statement of intent out to the rest of the field.

  15. F1 cars to be fitted with high-speed cameras from 2016 to aid accident analysis and investigations

    Feb 27, 2015, 11:00 AM EST

    AUTO-PRIX-BRA-F1-RACE Getty Images

    F1 Commission agrees on changes for 2016 season in a bid to help aid investigations into accidents.

  16. Alexander Rossi confirms return to GP2 in 2015 with Racing Engineering

    Feb 27, 2015, 9:32 AM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Practice Getty Images

    American driver secures a seat in GP2 after a turbulent 2014 campaign.

  17. FIA issues updated F1 entry list including “Manor Marussia”

    Feb 27, 2015, 9:17 AM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Previews Getty Images

    FIA confirms that Manor Marussia does have a place on the grid in 2015, relying it complies with the new technical regulations.

  18. Force India VJM08 breaks cover in Barcelona

    Feb 27, 2015, 9:00 AM EST

    © Force India © Force India

    26 days after the rest of the F1 field, Force India gets its 2015 car out on track for the first time.

  19. Fernando Alonso thanks fans for support following crash

    Feb 27, 2015, 7:41 AM EST

    AUTO-F1-ESP-TEST-MCLAREN Getty Images

    Spaniard posts a video on YouTube giving an update on his condition.