After taking his and Meyer Shank Racing‘s first podium in the NTT IndyCar Series, British driver Jack Harvey has stated that he will remember the 2019 Grand Prix of Indianapolis “for a long time.” Harvey started and finished Saturday’s race in third place, running in second place for much of the eighty-five lap event.
Harvey’s start to the 2019 season has been fantastic. Once again competing on a part-time schedule, this time comprising of ten races across the season, Harvey started the year off with his and the teams best qualifying and race result in IndyCar at the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, starting in seventh and finishing in tenth. Another tenth place would follow at the next race at the Circuit of the Americas. Harvey stated in an interview with The Checkered Flag a few weeks ago that it had been “important” to “hit the ground running” after a strong off-season.
The next two races at Barber Motorsports Park and Long Beach saw Jack finish outside of the top ten, but nevertheless, Jack entered the Grand Prix of Indianapolis race weekend just outside of the top ten in the championship standings; a fantastic position for a part-time entry.
This year was Harvey and Meyer Shank Racing’s first visit to the road course at Indianapolis. Despite the inexperience, both parties took to the track like a duck to water. Whilst veterans teams and drivers fell by the wayside in Friday’s qualifying session, Harvey and Meyer Shank Racing would progress all the way to the final round for the first time. What’s more, Jack would go on to put the #60 MSR Honda into third place on the grid for Saturday’s race; only behind the seasoned giant of Chip Ganassi Racing.
“I feel like we have been on the brink of a Firestone Fast Six result and now qualifying in the top of the Fast Six will be the momentum we need to replicate it more often,” said Harvey on Friday. “I was so focused on trying to get a good lap in that I didn’t even know we had gone P1 there for a second. This gives us confidence and what we are doing is headed in the right direction. Of course, we will continue to work at it to continue to get better.”
Harvey’s momentum from qualifying carried over into the start of the race on Saturday. At the drop of the green flag, the British driver got an electric getaway, out-dragging reigning champion Scott Dixon on the run to turn one to take over second place behind pole-sitter Felix Rosenqvist. Shortly thereafter, the Ganassi drivers would switch positions on the first race restart, with Harvey gaining a position on Rosenqvist whilst simultaneously losing out to Dixon on the run into turn one.
Throughout the remainder of the race, Harvey remained a consistent runner in the runner-up position. Throughout the ever changeable conditions as the rain fell, Harvey kept on running in second-place. His Meyer Shank Racing crew made fantastic strategic calls to keep him at the sharp end of the grid heading into the final laps, as the rain worsened and the field switched over to the wet tyres.
Ultimately, the #60 Meyer Shank Racing Honda did not seem as fast in the wet as it was in the dry. Harvey would lose out on his favoured second-place inside the final ten laps when Team Penske‘s Simon Pagenaud charged through on the inside of turn one. Pagenaud would go on to catch and pass Dixon for the race win, with Harvey crossing the line on lap eighty-five to take the final spot on the podium.
The result was an astonishing one for both Harvey and Meyer Shank Racing. 2019 looks to be their most competitive season by far already, having gone from taking their first top ten at St. Petersburg to their first podium on Saturday at Indianapolis.
Post-race, Harvey stated that securing his and the team’s first IndyCar podium finish was “awesome” before going on to say that he hoped it would be “the first of many” for the part-time outfit.
“I will remember this day for a long time,” Harvey said yesterday, “It was just so awesome that we finally got this podium. I feel like we’ve been right on the edge of having something like this for a while. I absolutely love this place. It was kind to me in the past. Great race today in the wet and the dry.”
“Hopefully, it’s just the first of many for this Meyer Shank Racing team,” Harvey continued, “I think we had great pace in the dry. When it really was raining, we struggled a bit, but then when it dried up, it seemed liked Scott [Dixon] came back to us there. It’s such a great day for the whole team.
“People forget, we are a part-time program, so podiums like this are massive.”
Echoing Harvey’s praise for the part-time Meyer Shank Racing entry was team co-owner, Mike Shank. Mike would say after the race that the team’s debut podium finish showed just how much the team had advanced since making their debut at the start of the 2018 season.
“I am incredibly proud of Jack, the crew, and engineering, it was a great group effort!” said Shank. “They did a hell of a job calling the race with the AutoNation / SiriusXM car. It was tough out there but Jack did an awesome job, and in the dry, we might have done a little bit better.
“It was a great day to show our advancing experience levels and how we handle situations like this. I am really pleased! This is an awesome result for us and really propels us into the month of May.”
Harvey and Meyer Shank Racing will be back out on track in the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series for the next race, the biggest event of the season, the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500. Practice will begin on Tuesday, May 14, with the two-days of qualifying being run from Saturday, May 18 to Sunday, May 19. The race itself will take place the following weekend on Sunday, May 26.