Craig Murto

Craig Murto

Colton Herta became the youngest IndyCar winner when he won the inaugural IndyCar Classic at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, on Sunday.

Less than a week before his 19th birthday, Herta’s victory came in only his third start in an IndyCar. The son of two-time Indy 500 car owner and former driver Bryan Herta, Colton Herta qualified fourth and ran in the top five throughout the race.

Herta made his final stop for fuel on the 43rd of 60 laps, as leader Will Power stayed out. But when a full-course caution flew over the COTA circuit on the very next lap, it forced Power to pit under yellow, which handed the lead to Herta. And to make matters worse for Power, he suffered a mechanical issue attempting to exit the pits, which ended his day after a dominant performance.

After a great restart, Herta stayed ahead of Josef Newgarden and Ryan Hunter-Reay to grab the win in IndyCar’s first visit to COTA.

The race was good. It was certainly more exciting than what the United States Grand Prix is expected to be when Formula One comes for its annual visit. F1, like NASCAR, has gone to rules that allow for more downforce. And the first race in Australia was, well, boring. Even the Formula E races for electric cars have been more exciting than F1 so far this year.

Our local road course, Summit Point Motorsports Park in West Virginia, not too far from Berryville, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. And just as last season, Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) races on the main circuit are free for spectators.

The first SCCA races will be on April 6-7 as part of the regional Mid-Atlantic Road Racing Series (MARRS). Then on April 27-28, SCCA brings one of its “Majors” to Summit Point. The Majors bring national drivers to local tracks, and are also qualifiers for the season-ending SCCA Runoffs, which will be held at Virginia International Raceway near Danville at the end of the year.

Four more MARRS weekends are scheduled for Summit Point, in June, July, August and September. These events are a great opportunity, especially since they are free to attend. Camping is also free, so you really have no excuses.

Hagerstown Speedway in Maryland opened its 72nd season over the weekend with Justin Weaver scoring his first career Super Late Model victory in the 30-lap Ultimate Northeast Super Late Model Series feature. The win secured Weaver a guaranteed starting spot in the upcoming April 13 visit by the Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series.

Behind Weaver were second-place Kyle Lee, Mason Zeigler in third, and Gregg Satterlee and Jared Miley rounding out the top five.

If you’ve never been to Richmond Raceway, there’s no better time to check out the three-quarter-mile oval than this Saturday, when the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) hosts the inaugural Commonwealth Classic. Time trials begin at 1 p.m. and racing is scheduled to begin at 3.

It will be a full day of racing, featuring two PASS Super Late Model features. Filler Street Stock and Mini Stock divisions will be on hand, but so will the American-Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Models, making their first visit to the Commonwealth. A feature for tour-type Modifieds is also scheduled, the first time NASCAR-style Modifieds have been on the track in years.

South Boston Speedway has an actual NASCAR Modified Tour race scheduled for Saturday, as well as features for its competitive NASCAR Late Model Stock Car division. But promoters are confident that there are plenty of tour-type Modifieds to go around, and both Saturday events should have full fields of cars.

Already there are 33 ACT Late Models registered for Richmond. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Super Late Model standout Bubba Pollard finds a ride for the ACT race, as he’s already stated he will run in the Milk Bowl this fall, the big race at Vermont’s Thunder Road Speedbowl that runs ACT rules. Pollard is fresh off a Super Late Model win in the Championship Auto Racing Series (CARS) Tour race at Hickory, North Carolina, and may be the best pavement short track stock car racer in the country right now.

Winchester Speedway’s opening night is Saturday, featuring Super Late Models and Crate Late Models. With beautiful weather forecast, there’s no excuse not to be at a racetrack this weekend.

Veteran motorsports columnist Craig Murto is a Linden resident.