Meyer Shank Racing‘s Jack Harvey has voiced his displeasure after he was forced to retire early in yesterday’s NTT IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Portland after being hit by Andretti Autosport‘s Ryan Hunter-Reay. The pair made contact on lap fourteen after Hunter-Reay made a mistake whilst battling with his team-mate, Alexander Rossi.
Harvey and Meyer Shank Racing were making their return to the grid after having missed the last two races at Pocono Raceway and Gateway Motorsports Park. MSR is still a part-time entry in the championship and thus have to make up for lost time whenever they return to the grid. What’s more, the team and driver were hoping for a strong result this weekend amid 2020 entry discussions following the potential loss of their partnership with Arrow Schmidt Peterson following the team’s merge with McLaren Racing for next season.
The weekend got off to a superb start in qualifying, as Jack managed to take the #60 Honda all the way to the final round of qualifying, where he would secure fourth-place on the grid with a lap-time just three-tenths of a second slower than the pole position time set by Colton Herta.
“We are a part-time team, so to get into the Firestone Fast Six, it’s a really great accomplishment for everyone at Meyer Shank Racing.” Harvey said on Saturday. “We have learned some really great things this weekend and we have progressed really well and the No. 60 AutoNation / SiriusXM car has been fast.
“We had a good race brewing here last year, but a yellow flag hurt us. We put ourselves in a good position to try to replicate last year’s race. I’m proud of what this team has achieved and hopefully, we can finish a couple of spots better tomorrow and end up on the podium.”
Sadly for Harvey, his race would not go nearly as well as qualifying had. Jack got off to a decent start as he moved up to third place on lap one. An early caution due to a pile-up at turn one would bring out the caution, with Jack then losing a position to Will Power on the ensuing race restart on lap thirteen.
At the start of the next lap, Harvey was still running in fourth-place. Behind him, Andretti’s Ryan Hunter-Reay was putting on an aggressive defence of fifth-place on his team-mate and championship-contender, Alexander Rossi. Hunter-Reay moved all the way to the right-hand side of the track to try and hold his position, but as the pair approached the braking zone for turn one, Hunter-Reay looked to have been focussing too much on defending rather than on where he needed to brake for turn one.
Hunter-Reay would get on the brakes way too late for the corner and would lose control of the rear of his car. At the apex of turn one, he would make side-to-side contact with Jack Harvey, who had been taking the corner as normal and had not been expecting anyone to be alongside him as Hunter-Reay had been too far back. Both would be sent bouncing over the kerbs at turn two and would come to a stop facing each other.
Harvey, obviously displeased with the incident, would sarcastically applaud Hunter-Reay. To add insult to injury, Hunter-Reay would be able to drive back to the pits and get repairs made to his #28 Honda, whilst Harvey was forced to climb out of his #60 Honda then and there; putting an end to what could have been a really strong race for the British driver. Hunter-Reay would go on to retire from the race later on.
“My day was unfortunately cut pretty short.” Harvey said post-race yesterday, “I had a great start and was able to get into P3 on the exit of Turn 2, and then on the restart, I lost a place to Will Power who was on [Firestone] reds and I was on blacks. I knew that I was far enough away from Ryan [Hunter-Reay] that I actually deactivated push to pass because I was so clear into the corner.
“The No. 60 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda showed great pace all weekend and we have made some really good gains this year. I am proud of everyone this weekend. It’s just disappointing that we weren’t able to get the result today that we deserved.”
Hunter-Reay immediately took responsibility for the incident, even taking the blame on the team radio on his way back to the pits. After the race, Ryan would apologise to Harvey for ending his race and to his Andretti crew for ruining what could have been a decent race for themselves.
“I feel terrible for the team,” Hunter-Reay said in post-race interviews. “I was racing [Alexander] Rossi and got caught up in the fight, then broke too deep. I missed it by a good half a marker in the braking and got into Jack Harvey – feel bad for them. Apologies to the team, to DHL, AutoNation and our partners. We should have had a pretty good day today. This one is on me.”
Hunter-Reay would continue his apologies on social media after the race, tweeting: “I feel absolutely terrible for the mistake I made today. Entirely my doing 120% no excuses, no explanations. I’m very sorry, Jack Harvey and his team were victims in this in what was a promising weekend for them. Apologies to my team and partners. [I] feel terrible.”
Harvey would respond to Hunter-Reay’s apology on Twitter by stating that he respected Ryan for the quick ownership of his mistake. He replied: “[Ryan] came to see me right after the race, which I can respect. Tough pill to swallow for the whole team. Hate that it happened. It did. We move on. Strong weekend and looking forward to Laguna.”
Both Harvey and Hunter-Reay will be hoping for a much better result in the upcoming season finale of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series in three weeks time. The 2019 Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey will take place at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on Sunday, September 22.