Colton Herta, Scott McLaughlin crash while dodging photo opportunity at Indy 500 practice

An attempted photo opportunity went almost horribly wrong on the first round of Indianapolis 500 training Colton Herta crashed into both Scott McLaughlin and the wall that, at over 200 mph, doesn’t notice the Instagram moment in front of you.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan had his three drivers slowly fan out across the front track of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at the start of practice on Thursday to get a planned picture. IndyCar said there was no known Rahal photo shoot, so the track was “hot” for the entire field.

McLaughlin and Simona de Silvestro saw the three Rahal cars spinning around the corner, and both instantly slowed to about 170 mph. Herta couldn’t see the Rahal cars and it was too late when he noticed that McLaughlin and de Silvestro had slowed down.

REPLAY: Early contact between @ ColtonHerta and @ smclaughlin93.

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– NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) May 20, 2021

He was racing at 220 mph, and at the final rate it was impossible not to run McLaughlin over. Instead, Herta McLaughlin had to quickly get out of the way on the wall to avoid a full collision. Both Herta and McLaughlin then had to carry out repairs.

IndyCar announced at the end of the session Takuma Sato, Graham Rahal and Santino Ferrucci are all parked for the first 30 minutes of critical practice on Friday, when engine power is increased and the teams take a first look at their speed before qualifying.

“We were several hundred meters ahead of some other cars. It was a pit stop and it was the first lap,” said team owner Bob Rahal. “I think maybe some people shouldn’t be in such a rush and maybe the spotters should have done a better job. It’s disappointing that something happened a quarter mile or so behind us and we have to pay a price for it.”

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Rahal also complained that the four Team Penske cars had done their own photo shoot on Tuesday, the opening day of the Indy 500 preparations. But track owners Roger PenskeThe cars of took the photo during a five-minute period when the track was stated on the schedule as open to non-competitive installation laps.

“We’re going to miss 30 minutes of training, do you mean for what Roger did the day before, or for Roger’s team, should I say?” Said Rahal. “We were at the start-finish line when it all happened and as far as I know the Penske boys were slowing down so they had no problem with it. I’m disappointed and I’ll talk to IndyCar about it.”

It was a double blow for the Rahal group: Ferrucci was the first rider to crash in three days of training late on Thursday. He spun on his own and hit the wall hard. He could not put any weight on his left leg and was taken to an emergency vehicle.

IndyCar’s medical staff sent Ferrucci to a hospital for checkups. He was released later Thursday but must be cleared by IndyCar before he can practice.

Herta ultimately missed about an hour of training and said he was grateful that his speedway car was not damaged despite two hits. The young American also marched to the Rahal boxes, where he said he expressed his displeasure with the photo and found the punishment appropriate for the team.

“I was angry. I found it irresponsible that they were doing something so slowly,” said Herta.

McLaughlin shared his feelings on social media. Australian rookie Penske driver told the Rahal team he hoped the photo turned out well as he tweeted a replay of the incident.

It was the first real excitement over three training days before qualifying this weekend. No driver was noticed in the crowd; No team was consistently dominant.

The conversation continues to focus on the changing of the guard at IndyCar, which had three first-time winners in five races that led to the Indy 500 on May 30th. Four of this year’s IndyCar winners are 24 years or younger, including Herta, Pato O’Ward and Rinus VeeKay, the 20-year-old winner on Indy’s street circuit last weekend.

The trio pondered the top stories on the speedway after training Thursday, and their youth and fearlessness made for a refreshing perspective. No one had been involved in any kind of memorial photo shoot as Penske had done and Rahal had attempted, but the idea seemed radical.

“It looks cool,” admitted O’Ward. “I think they got the idea, the first day everyone went out, I think the Penske boys did it. It looked pretty cool.”

However, the series’ youth are professional in that they respect racing as a business. All young IndyCar stars have a background in Europe or Japan, as is the case with the 24-year-old winner Alex Palouand everyone thinks they belong on the show right now.

“There is enough experience from these young people, they are fast enough, that I wouldn’t be surprised if one of us won the Indy 500,” said Herta.

At the end of the day it was Tony Kanaan on the leaderboard. The 2013 race winner is the oldest driver in the field at 46 and only drives part of the schedule – the ovals, the Jimmie Johnson didn’t want to move from NASCAR after moving.

But Kanaan was going 225.341 mph on Thursday and Chip Ganassi Racing seems strong. All four cars were fast, but Kanaan said there was still a lot to do before the time trial on Sunday’s pole decision.

“You are never happy,” said Canaan. “I won’t be able to sleep tonight. Tomorrow night it will be worse. If I didn’t have this feeling, I shouldn’t.”

Conor Dalywho have favourited Indianapolis Local Driving For Ed Carpenter Racing was second fastest and was in the top 10 in every practice session. Ferrucci was third fastest before crashing.

“I don’t think IndyCar has ever been that competitive with so many different age groups,” said O’Ward. “As if you have people under the age of 24 who are winning races and being competitive. This series is stacked up. I feel like it has never been more competitive.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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