Harvey and Shank. Photo: IndyCar

Perseverance, patience pays off for Shank, Harvey partnership

Leave a comment

Dogged determination is a phrase that can be used to describe Mike Shank, a racing lifer whose eponymous team based just outside Columbus, Ohio has survived and thrived for north of 20 years.

Patient persistence is one that can be used to describe Jack Harvey, the Englishman whose American dream has taken a few years to properly realize.

Their mutual dedication combined with Shank’s Honda relationship and Harvey’s relationship with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports helped produce a likable new entry for the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season, with a six-race program in the No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda to start off in the first year of a multi-year program.

You should know Shank’s story if you’ve followed him in the past, but the cliff notes version is this. A driver turned team owner who has both high reputation and integrity from various paddocks tried to become an IndyCar team owner for 2012 in addition to his sports car program. He bought a car, but couldn’t get an engine lease.

This soured him at the time but he continued winning in sports car racing. A popular overall triumph at the 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona, the 50th anniversary edition, was the team’s biggest win with the quartet of Ozz Negri, John Pew, AJ Allmendinger and the late, great, Justin Wilson.

Although the initial hurt of not getting into IndyCar stung, Shank wouldn’t give up on the dream. Circumstances brought Harvey to Shank’s Indianapolis 500 entry last year in tandem with Andretti Autosport, and so both of their IndyCar careers were finally able to take hold.

It was the adversity the unit fought through all month and the relationship established that has led to now, as both Shank and Harvey explained during the PRI Show in Indianapolis.

“At any point, there were a lot of times when he could have just flat given up, and he just didn’t,” Shank told NBC Sports. “I just kept talking to him ‘Jack, we’re on this.’ When things went wrong, we knew why they went wrong, which is always actually good to know. It was not our fault, but it didn’t matter, it happened anyway. We got through it, and once we got through those first three or four days, we were fine. And in fact, a historical note, if you go back and look at the practice before qualifying, at Indy, we were eighth quickest, with a 231.8 (mph). I was really happy with where we were.”

Schmidt, Steve Eriksen (HPD), Harvey and Shank. Photo: IndyCar

Shank explored a partnership continuation with Andretti Autosport for 2018, but it didn’t make sense for either party. With SPM available to run a third car in a technical partnership and with Harvey already having the established relationship there, that made more sense for all parties.

“I’ll say one thing that I haven’t mentioned to anybody here today (at PRI), we had a great relationship with Andretti,” Shank explained. “We talked to them about this program a little bit, because we had that program with them before, and it just didn’t work for both parties. I have a lot of respect for what Michael’s done over there and J.F. Thormann. It just didn’t line up.

“With Sam and I: we’ve trying to do it for a while and it lined up. It made sense.”

Harvey recapped the unlikely union between he and Shank, but noted how much support and dedication Shank gave to him despite the two not knowing each other before May.

“How we even met was kind of random,” Harvey told NBC Sports. “It wasn’t what either of us thought we were going to do at the (Indy 500). And that relationship grew very quickly. I think it grew quickly because of the difficulties we went though, which I don’t think are a bad thing.

“Detroit immediately followed Indy and we sat down at a meeting at whatever hotel he was staying in and we said ‘This is what we’re looking to do in the future. Is there any interest to do it with us?’ He then expressed an interest to do it with us, and then we went back to SiriusXM and AutoNation and said ‘Look, this is what we’re trying to do. This is how we want to finish off ’17 and this is what we want to move to in the future.’”

Harvey gathered enough from those two supporters to run the final two races of 2017 with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in its No. 7 Honda, which had seen a revolving door of drivers after Mikhail Aleshin and the team mutually parted ways. Having two races at Watkins Glen and Sonoma, two more traditional race weekends instead of the month-long slog that is Indianapolis, allowed Harvey to get his feet wet in a more normal manner.

“The ‘500 itself is a unique beast. There’s nothing quite like the month of May. I’ll be the first to say it’s a slog, it’s a grind, and it’s a grind for everybody. Every single person who goes, goes to work,” Harvey said.

“Throughout the 500, there was nothing that happened that didn’t think I could, you know. Maybe I needed a bit more time and a bit more experience, but I believed I could do it.

“We went to the road courses and I feel like I backed it up, I was certainly comparable to (James Hinchcliffe), who was my teammate those weekends. I felt good. Again, I felt that, given a bit of time, I know I could do this.

“We sat down with Michael and had about as frank of a conversation as you could expect, one that when the phone rang I probably wasn’t expecting it. And it was along the lines of ‘Can you do this?’ I was like ‘I can do this. I absolutely can do it.’ I believe in myself. We have modest expectations for next year that are realistic, and honestly if we’re right in that window, maybe we will surprise a few people on some weekends.”

Shank’s often been known as doing a lot with a little; that being said, he has a solid core of local companies who are longtime supporters. Thanks to long-running partnerships with Curb Records, CAP and Associates, Rocky Fork Company, and Roberts Service Group, all have helped allow Shank’s dual programs next year both in IndyCar and his Acura NSX GT3 program in IMSA.

“There are so many positives that are going on right now. It’s been really difficult to get this together. A lot of credit on the IndyCar side goes to Jack (Harvey) and his guy Bob Perona,” said Shank (editor’s note: Harvey now has new representation from MBK Sports Management, a full-service sports agency founded by long-time NFL agent and attorney Eugene T. Lee).

“For us it’s just keep pushing, don’t give up, we’ll find another way to do it, and we just kept on it. Truly, the AutoNation/Sirius XM (partnership) is what pushed it over. These people really believe in us and we want to over-deliver for them and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”

The team will run a loaned SPM chassis for its initial testing in January before moving to Shank’s newly purchased chassis in February. Will Anderson, a longtime junior engineer with SPM, will be Harvey’s race engineer. The program will run St. Petersburg, Long Beach and the Indianapolis 500 for sure, with Shank still finalizing which other three races they’ll do – but he expects they’ll be road or street course races.

Harvey, meanwhile, now has a multi-year plan to build upon with Shank and Schmidt Peterson. This comes as a welcome relief after not having any racing in 2016 and just keeping his face present as SPM’s Indy Lights driver coach, then doing a mix of coaching and driving last year.

“It’s a huge relief. I’ve gone from having nothing in ’16, like no racing at all, to trying to put together something for ’17,” he said. “There was a late ‘500” deal, there was a late last two races deal.

“To know what we have for next year is going to be ironed out, there’s going to be some testing before it – dude, I’m a lucky person, there’s no doubting that. That being said, we’ve worked incredibly hard to get back to this point. So we’ll take a little bit of the good fortune that comes with that.

“It’s nice to have it wrapped away for Christmas. I’m going to go back to the U.K. on the 22nd of December, shut the phone down for probably three or four days, and enjoy Christmas with my family, because without them, I wouldn’t be here. I’ve got a great management team, a lot of people who I need to thank for making it happen. Honestly, the multi-year agreement part of it is hopefully my opportunity to say thank you.”

INDYCAR: what drivers said after Pocono

Leave a comment

Here’s what drivers said after Sunday’s 14th race on the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series schedule – the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway:

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet) – WINNER: “I had a few issues during the race but we just kept coming back. Full credit to the team. We had a great car and we just kind of hung there and saved fuel and when it was time to go, I went. I was so determined and I really wanted to win. This is my 13th year in a row of winning races and I have been thinking about that. I just wanted to win a race for Verizon and these guys who have worked their butts off all year and just haven’t had the results.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) – finished second: “Definitely gets exciting in that situation. We definitely had some luck. Today the car went through some good changes. The car was pretty quick.  Not sure really what happened on the last stint there. We put more front wing in there, more pressure on the right rear tire. Couldn’t turn the car. We were running 213, 214 (mph), struggling to do 208. So much understeer. Will was definitely extremely strong today. It was good to see him get another victory this season. Had we gone back out, even with headlights on, I think Will was going to take the race. Congrats to him and Team Penske. We’ll keep our head down and see what we can come up with for the last three races.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet) – finished third: “Well, it’s a great day. Very happy for Will and Team Penske to get another win here in Pocono. It’s pretty awesome. I think we showed our cars were the strongest today. Overall it’s a pretty good points day for us on the 22 car this weekend. Obviously, yes, I did think we could have done a little better. At least we would have tried. I think we had the car to do so… Who knows what would have happened, but I think we could have challenged at least. At the end of the day it’s not a bad day. We’ll take it. Go to the next one, keep pushing.”

SANTINO FERRUCCI (No. 19 Cly-Del Manufacturing Honda) – finished fourth: “This weekend has been pretty amazing to have over 120 people here, from family and friends to sponsors and to race in front of such a large crowd. Hats off to the whole team, we rolled the car off the trailer and it was fast. I’d say that’s a job well-done and homework well-researched. The No. 19 Cly-Del Manufacturing Honda was on rails. I think we definitely had a top three in us and we were fighting for a chance to win the race at one point. Obviously with the conditions and everything, I’m still happy to bring home a top-five. It makes a huge difference in the rookie championship and moves us up to 12th overall. With three races to go and one more oval, we’ll see how much further we can move up.”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet) – finished fifth: “It was kind of an interesting day, but it could have been worse. It was sort of like qualifying yesterday where qualifying got rained out but we started on the pole. We didn’t finish this race but we finished fifth. We’ll take it. I wish we could have been a little bit higher, but I think Will (Power) was going to be tough to beat today. He looked very strong. Certainly towards the middle of the race I thought he was looking very good. We fought with what we had today and I thought the Hitachi Chevy was pretty good. Coming out of here with a decent finish allows us to now focus on the last three events. We just need to set our sights on Gateway next weekend and execute. I think we will have a good car. I always feel confident with Team Penske, and Team Chevy has been pushing hard, so I’m looking forward to it.”

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 SONAX Chevrolet) – finished sixth: “We needed a decent run. We DNF’ed at Iowa, which wasn’t good. I feel like we have been performing better this year, we just haven’t really been able to put it together. It was nice to be in the mix, racing with the guys you need to race with to be up there fighting for wins. I wish we could have seen out all 500 miles, but Pocono always has its own craziness when it comes to the weather. Hopefully, all of the fans got to their cars before they got too wet. I thought it was a really good turnout today, it was a fun race while we were out there. It was unfortunate to see guys kind of lose their minds a bit there at the start, but all in all it was a fun day and nice to be moving forward.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 SealMaster Honda) – finished seventh: “It was a strong run for the No. 18 SealMaster Honda. We were quick and I got up to fourth at one point. I think we deserved that position. It was kind of a broken up race and unfortunately, on the last restart, the guys in front of me checked up and I got swallowed up and lost four positions. I got one position back, then the race was stopped because of the weather. I think if the race continued we would have finished better than seventh, but that’s racing.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet) – finished eighth: “Good day for us, another top 10. We have a few things to improve still but we’ll take it from where we started. We had a competitive car all weekend. The goal was to finish in the top 10 and we finished eighth, which is my best result of the year. It’s a good energy boost for the boys.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 TOTAL Honda) – finished ninth: “We need a little more pace. We were a little slow on the straights for some reason, but we’ll keep digging into it. I had a bad restart (went from fifth to ninth), but it wasn’t that bad actually. I was pulling up on the guys in front of me, but I just got driven around and was in a position where I was a little bit of a sitting duck and lost a bunch of spots and that killed our race from then-on, frankly. We were scrambling just to get ourselves back in position. I had another good restart later and went from 13th to ninth and made some of those spots back up.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 23 Tresiba Carlin Chevrolet) – finished 10th: “First and foremost, I’m glad that everyone is OK from the incidents on track today. Secondly, I’m just really proud of this Carlin crew. We made great progress with the No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet in superspeedway trim and we learned a lot after coming here last year. The racing at Pocono Raceway is really tough, but these guys just kept their head down and made it happen. I made a mistake in the first pit stop, but we were able to run our strategy and get a really good run going. To come away with a top-10 finish from a very challenging weekend where we didn’t get to qualify is really a credit to the entire Carlin team. It was really great to get that top-10 finish in front of all of our Novo Nordisk guests who made the trip out to the track to support us and also to round out the top 10 with a bowtie for Team Chevy.”

CONOR DALY (No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet): – finished 11th “After where we started at the back of the field, to finish 11th is awesome. It’s unfortunate though, because we were really just starting to get to the point where I was happier with the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet. The last few laps before the final red flag, we were the fastest car on the track, so we were definitely moving in the right direction. We were catching all of the people in front of us and starting to get to where we needed to be, but these 500-mile races are long and the goal is to be strong at the end, which I really felt like we were working toward that for sure. To be 11th is really good and it’s another strong finish for this group of people here at Carlin. Hopefully we can keep this momentum going into Gateway and that’ll be even more fun.”

MARCUS ERICSSON (No. 7 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda) – finished 12th: “It was a tough race. I thought I had some really good starts and restarts; we made up positions there. Unfortunately, throughout the race we were struggling a bit with the balance of the car throughout the stints, so I was struggling to keep up with the pace with the guys ahead or behind us. I thought at one point there after the second restart and we were up to P5, the day was looking to potentially be really good. Just a tough race trying to hang on and make the best of it. We learned a lot and the Arrow SPM guys did a great job with stops, but disappointed we didn’t have a better result than that.”

ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda) – finished 13th: “Thirteenth obviously isn’t where we wanted to finish – but all things aside, it was an OK day for us. Just lacking overall grip, I think as a team, but we moved forward from our starting spot – which with qualifying being canceled hurt us. I’m thankful for all the work the guys did. Honestly, walking away 13th isn’t what we want, but we did all we could and I’m proud of that. We’ll go to Gateway and have a better result.”

MATHEUS LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet) – finished 14th: “The car was good. The stops were perfect and I think we had a good strategy. We went a lap down cause we had too much vibration in one of our tires, so we had to stop early and that was it from there.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 US Concrete / Curb Honda) – finished 15th: “Mainly, I’m just glad everyone walked out OK after the wreck on the start. I had an issue with one of my head pads coming out and we lost some time fixing that. Beyond that, the car had a big imbalance and by the time we got that resolved, we were a lap down. There wasn’t much we could do, and it made for a long day. Looking ahead to Gateway and working to finish the season strong.”

COLTON HERTA (No. 88 Capstone Turbine Honda) – finished 16th: “The No. 88 Capstone Turbine Honda guys gave me a great car for the ABC Supply 500, I think we had one of the better cars on track today and definitely a better car than where we finished. It’s unfortunate that we got into the wall there. It’s very disappointing. I know we’ll be able to rebound next week at Gateway. I really like racing there and I’m excited to compete under the lights.”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Autogeek Chevrolet) – finished 17th: “That was a frustrating end to the day, we hit a bump in Turn 1 and it caused something to break on the front of the car. From then on, I was just a passenger and went straight up into the wall. I had no steering at that point, unfortunately. We were running pretty comfortably there in seventh and the car was feeling pretty good. We had lost touch with the group in front but I felt like we had a solid car. I feel bad for everyone at Ed Carpenter Racing, we have a race again next weekend and now there is a lot of extra work to do.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 MilitaryToMotorsports.com Honda) – finished 18th: “Obviously, I didn’t get a good start – so that’s on me. But we were three-wide; Ryan was on the inside, I was in the middle and Takuma was on the outside. I can’t even begin to understand how after last year Takuma thinks that any sort of driving like that is acceptable. To turn across two cars, at that speed, in that corner at a 500-mile race is disgraceful, upsetting and may have cost us a championship. It’s upsetting. This team works too hard to have something like that happen. The whole team worked tirelessly to get the 27 car back on track. Once we got out there, the car just didn’t have the handling we needed so we held on to make up as many points as we could. Unfortunately, the weather came, and the race was called one lap before we could gain another spot. We have a couple days to rebound and go for race wins now – that’s all that matters.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda) – finished 19th: “The opening lap wreck was ridiculous and thank God everybody was alright. It’s so unfortunate at the beginning of a 500-mile race. The car was good yesterday and we just needed to put together 500 clean miles. The DHL car deserved to be fighting for a win today. We did all we could do after coming back out. The guys did a great job; unbelievable effort in getting the car turned back around. But we were really loose in (Turn) 3, and it turned out we had holes in the underwing from the crash. The last thing we want to do is be a risk out there and damage more equipment, so we got the points we could and came in just before the weather hit.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda) – finished 20th: “It unfolded in front of us. We had a pretty good start with the No. 5 Arrow car. We were heading into Turn 2 kind of three-wide, and I knew that wasn’t a good idea, so I backed out. I thought I was actually gonna save us because it happened in front of me. I couldn’t see exactly what started it, but then the wreck sorta moved down to the inside… I was able to slow down, but it just slid out to where I was. There was nowhere I could go. It sucks. I mean it wasn’t too hard a hit, so glad everybody is ok. It’s a 500-mile race, I don’t know how many times we have to do this before people figure out that you can attack all you want, but it doesn’t give you a chance to win if you are in the fence.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda) – finished 21st: “First of all, I am worried about Felix. Hopefully he is OK. I am sorry for all the guys fighting for the championship. Ryan and I were obviously racing at the exit of Turn 1 and it looks like Alexander had a slow start. We both went right and left (of Rossi) and I thought it was all clear. All the (track) seams also are putting the car really easy to get the lane change and everybody gets close. Unfortunately, it looks like we made contact for that.”

FELIX ROSENQVIST (No. 10 NTT Data Ganassi Racing Honda) – finished 22nd: “First of all, it’s good to see that I’m cleared from the medical checks. Just with minor back pain and some headache. Hopefully I should be back to normal in a couple of days. A big thanks to the INDYCAR track staff and medical staff, did an awesome job looking after everything. Luckily the other drivers are OK as well, I think that’s the main thing. A shame that we were caught out already on lap one. I think we had a good car today. Good to see Scott being up there all day. Good points for him, probably throwing him up there in the championship hunt. Looking forward to get back in the car in Gateway.”

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter