Jack Harvey hopes Sonoma test with Schmidt Peterson leads to next career chapter

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This week Indy Lights Presented by Cooper TiresĀ points leader Jack Harvey will pilot an IndyCar for the first time in a test at Sonoma Raceway.

Though it’s something he’s worked towards since he was nine and racing go-karts, the 22-year-old driver is not excited.

He’s well past that level of description.

“‘Excitement’ is an understatement for everyone going into the test,” Harvey said in a teleconference last week. “More than excited. I don’t really have the words to explain just how much I’m looking forward to it.”

The Bassingham, England native, who resides in Indianapolis, and driver for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports will share the No. 5 of Ryan Briscoe on the road course in the hopes of proving himself worthy of a seat in the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2016. He’s already doing his best at that in Indy Lights.

Through two seasons Harvey has six wins, 18 podiums and four poles. Two wins have come in 2015.

“All you’re looking for as a driver, if you can go out and do the job on track, you just get the opportunity to progress,” Harvey said. ‘I think we’re all pretty lucky at the moment that it seems like it’s a genuine possibility to do that.’

The latest drivers from Indy Lights to be baptized in IndyCar are Sage Karam, who won the 2013 Indy Lights championship, and Gabby Chaves, the 2014 champion.

Though Karam’s name has grabbed most of the headlines in his Ganassi Racing ride this year, Harvey points to Chaves, racing for Bryan Herta Autosport, as his primary example.

“I think Gabby is a guy I look at and would like to try and follow what he’s done in this off-season by following the natural order of things and just stepping up into IndyCar,” Harvey said.

“I think people like Josef (Newgarden), people like Sage, they’ve all done it. Whatever happens, I’d like to see the champion of Indy Lights continue to progress. I think Dan (Andersen) and everybody at Mazda, everybody at IndyCar have given us a great opportunity to do that. I feel like it’s certainly a possibility.”

Seven Indy Lights drivers will be participating in the test at the California road course, but Harvey will be making laps in a Dallara IndyCar for the first time.

“Anticipation is a funny thing. I’ve spoken to the team quite a lot,” Harvey said. “The horsepower is going to be something to anticipate. The first three or four laps will feel quite fast. It’s quite a significant increase in performance from the engine, stepping up from Indy Lights into IndyCar.”

Harvey says because of the “natural progression” of going from Indy Lights to IndyCar, there won’t be as many surprises as there would be if he were moving from USF2000 to the top series.

“Because I’ve done these steps before, I think I know what to expect after looking at some data, working with the team this week,” Harvey said. “Then there’s going to be a ton of surprises, I’m sure. Plenty of things I didn’t anticipate that will come up, you know, across the morning when I’m testing.”

But Harvey says the weekended in Sonona could be “an invaluable test” for his career and where it could be at this point next year.

“Hopefully it’s the start of a new chapter for all the guys who are going to it next week.”