INDIANAPOLIS – Jack Harvey showed us just how strong and how much potential Meyer Shank Racing really has. Harvey, was making just his 14th career NTT IndyCar Series start on Saturday, 12 of which being with MSR.
On Friday, Harvey qualified his No. 60 Honda in third for this wekend’s INDYCAR Grand Prix. He bested all three Team Penske cars and literally every other team in the series other than Chip Ganassi Racing.
By the end of the first turn, Harvey was in second. At the end of the race, he finished a career best third.
They showed so much promise this season and because Saturday’s race was at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it was a larger stage to showcase it. See, this unlikely marriage is one that could be in the early stages of what could be a future powerhouse.
Harvey, showed up to the United States in 2014 as a bright eyed rookie. He joined Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in the Indy Lights Series that year. The England native had a stellar season in winning four of the final five races to cap a year where he scored 10 podiums in 14 tries. That netted him a share of the championship as he tied, but lost the Road to Indy scholarship on a tiebreaker.
So, he’d return to SPM in 2015 in thesame series for another go around. Harvey, scored two more wins to go along with six runner-ups and 12 top fives in 16 tries. He unfortunately finished runner-up in the final standings once again.
With all the success in Indy Lights, why return for a third go around. He had showed the talent and poise to be an NTT IndyCar Series driver. The problem was, he didn’t have the full funding to do so. He narrowly lost out on a $1-million scholarship two years in-a-row.
Without proper funding, he was left in 2016 without a ride. Luckily, MSR came to the rescue in 2017. Harvey and MSR teamed up for their first Indy Car race together in the 2017 Indy 500, a race where Harvey started 27th and finished 31st.
It was what Harvey says was perfect timing for a rough part of his career.
“It’s a big one, bigger one than I would have admitted before I got a podium,” Harvey said on how big this was for where his career was at in 2016. “It’s not easy coming to the track and watching everybody else race when you’re sitting on the sidelines. That being said, I am extremely lucky, especially I have a lot to — two people in particular, my manager Bob Corona, Marc Cannon from Auto Nation, I think those two guys really saved my career. They both stuck with us at a time when I desperately needed somebody, and we worked really hard to try and put the 500 together in 2017, and we did, along with what was then still Michael Shank Racing and Andretti Autosport.
“You know, you look back at that moment as a real pivotal step and one that I needed. And this personally gives me a lot of confidence because it’s been a little while since we were competing week in, week out, a lot of — I haven’t gone short of opportunities, which I’m grateful for, but being thrown in the deep end all the time is tricky and you don’t always get the results and you lose a little bit of confidence and whatnot, where this weekend I knew we were going to be good coming into it. We delivered on that, and I think just for me alone, I feel like this is a big confidence boost, not arrogantly but just in a humble way. I talk about showing it to ourselves, but I just showed myself that I can come and compete at this level, and I’m very lucky with the people I surround myself with at the track and at home. They haven’t let me ever lose sight of that and my talent.
“But sometimes you’ve got to prove it to yourself, and sat next to a piece of trophy is a nice thing. Third is great, but first obviously is even greater, so I think everyone saw how happy we were and how happy we are to finish third, but to win is still the goal, so a little bit of work left to do.”
The two sides in May 2017 wanted more. Harvey subbed in two races for SPM later than year only to return to MSR for a six race program in 2018with a joint partnership with SPM, the same team Harvey spent two years at in Indy Lights. See, it was the penultimate year of a three year goal Michael Shank set out to strive for. At this moment now, the success is honestly coming quicker than expected but that’s because of the people around them.
“This is way beyond what we expected,” Shank told us after scoring their first career podium finish in the series. “We set realistic expectations early because it’s so hard. Goal No. 1 is to transfer, Goal No. 2 is top 10. We’ve got three out of five top 10’s and three out of five transfers. Now, we’ve got a top six which we didn’t know if we could do it or not to be honest.”
Harvey, has finished 10th twice and now third in the first five races of the season. He’s made it out of the first round in qualifying three times already too. The goals are being accomplished and that’s big.
Shank, was first formed in 1989 but it was so Shank could race. He would race for eight years in fact before retiring from the actual racing side in 1997. He moved to strictly an owner in hopes of better success in Toyota Atlantic’s. After several years of success there, he moved to sports cars in 2004. They even won the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2012.
After all the sports car success, Shank decided it was time to achieve his ultimate goal – IndyCar.
So, in 2017, he was looking for an existing team to partner with and needed a driver. Andretti and Jack Harvey fit the bill for both.
Two years later, they’re on the podium at Indianapolis with what Shank says is a testament to how talented Harvey truly is and how good they should be in the Indianapolis 500.
“He deserves so much credit,” Shank says of Harvey. “He’s so special. He works so hard. There’s so much thought in this.
Shank spoke on how good of a start Harvey had when he split the Chip Ganassi Racing teammates by Turn 1. That was part of a race plan that Harvey executed perfectly. Now, his future plan is coming together as Shank said that he hopes to be a full time team in 2020.
“Think about it, for 38 years and as long as I’ve been in racing and doing something to be able to be where we’re at on that pole up there, P3 is so overwhelming,” Shank said on today’s finish. “So much blood, sweat and tears to even get to this point. A lot of sacrifice by a lot of people. What I like most about this is we came out of the box yesterday fighting. I told Jack that we’ve got something this weekend. Don’t stop pushing. So, he kept pushing and in qualifying we damn near got the pole. In the dry we would have finished first or second. In the wet, think about this, Jack Harvey had never been in an IndyCar in the rain ever. First time. We put those tires on and said go and well don’t mess up. You’re in the top 10.
“A lot of people are going to talk about us as a part time team and that’s a good story but this is a big team. We have a big heart and a big team. We’re not poor but we just don’t have all the money to run full time in the series. We’d rather do what we’re doing which is aggressive learning and to be able to take the next step when we’re ready. I’m happy with the pace we’re going. There’s been some talk of people wanting us to go full time but I don’t know if we would even if we had all the money. We have a three year plan and I can’t wait to see if we can make it happen. We will know this summer if we can make that happen. The goal is to go full time next year. We did one in 2017, six in 2018 and 10 in 2019. That’s exactly to plan. The plan forward is how to we get better to win a championship.”
Shank said that he’d like to remain a partner with SPM when they do so and that within their relationship, they work together but have the freedom to branch off when they need to. Saturday was a true testament.
SPM finished 16th and-24th in the race. Shank finished third.
This is what could be the first of many podiums for this pairing.