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

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This week Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires 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.”

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”