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IndyCar at Mid-Ohio: Jack Harvey ready to make most of first start since Indy 500

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When you are scheduled to compete in just six IndyCar races this season, patience is a virtue.

And that certainly describes Jack Harvey. It’s been nearly two months since he last competed in an IndyCar race, finishing 16th in the Indianapolis 500.

For some people, missing two months and the six races since Indy an eternity. But Harvey is more than ready to get back into the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing Honda, and he’ll do just that in this weekend’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

“We’re excited to be back in the car,” Harvey told MotorSportsTalk. “We’re doing six races this year, which means we’re missing a few more than we are actually racing at.

“But honestly, every time we get the opportunity to go back in, we’re absolutely buzzing and are so excited.”

Harvey will once again be in the No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda, which is a joint partnership between Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Meyer Shank Racing (co-owners Michael Shank of Michael Shank Racing and SiriusXM Satellite Radio CEO Jim Meyer).

“I’m really surrounded by two really fantastic teams,” Harvey said. “Everybody at Meyer Shank Racing and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, they’re behind me 100 percent.

“The goal for this year is just to improve every weekend. If we could win, absolutely, we’ll give it our best go. But we’re also realistic with our expectations, as well.”

This weekend’s race will be the fourth of the 2018 season for the 25-year-old Bassingham, England native.

Thus far, he’s competed in the season opener at St. Petersburg (finished 23rd, exited after just 38 of 110 laps), Long Beach (12th) and the Indy 500 (16th).

“Honestly, even St. Petersburg, we were running well, running fifth place, and then we had a random tire blow out, the right rear just popped,” Harvey said.

“The team didn’t see anything before it happened in the telemetry and I didn’t feel anything before it happened. So, that was a little bit of an anomaly.”

Even though St. Petersburg didn’t turn out the way he hoped, there’s still a lot to be said that Harvey subsequently completed all 85 laps at Long Beach and all 200 at Indy.

“Every weekend, we want to see the checkered flag at the end of the race, that’s at the top of our priority list,” Harvey said. “Hopefully at Mid-Ohio, if we can qualify in the top 12 and race in the top 10, that would be a fantastic weekend because the depth and quality in this championship is so high.

“If we could do that, it would be absolutely awesome.”

Mid-Ohio is one of the biggest races for the team this year. First, it’s the home track for Meyer Shank Racing. Second, it’s where Harvey earned his first two of six career Indy Lights victories in a back-to-back race weekend there in 2014.

“Mid-Ohio is an extra special place for us, for sure,” Harvey said. “We really feel this could be a strong race for us. It’s got good memories for all of us.”

While competing in just under one-third of the full 17-race IndyCar season can be challenging, Harvey keeps himself busy.

“It’s been difficult, a tough thing to mentally get your head around,” Harvey said. “You come to the track and honestly, I just want to drive.

“If I’m watching a test day, first practice, the race, qualifying, it doesn’t matter. If someone is going around in a car, I want to be in the car. That’s been tough, honestly.”

Even if he’s not in a race car, Harvey still attends many IndyCar race weekends.

“In terms of trying to keep sharp and busy, I coach a driver in the USF 2000 category, Kaylen Frederick (currently 2nd in the standings),” Harvey said. “That’s kept me at the track and kept me in all the debriefs with the team and things like that, (race in) simulators when the opportunity comes up, and I’m in the process of buying a go-kart, as well.

“I’m just trying to stay sharp as much as we can.”

After this weekend, Harvey has two more IndyCar races left on this year’s schedule: the second-to-last race at Portland and the season finale at Sonoma, California.

Going forward, MSR plans on competing in at least another six races in 2019, with hopes of going the full season in 2020.

“I’d love to see us get into double digits for races next year,” Harvey said. “If the opportunity presented itself, of course we’d love to do the full season. We just have to play that by ear and see how it goes.

“But on the whole, I’m very happy with the direction the team is going. If we can end up with a full season by 2020, perhaps that’s a slightly more realistic target. We all know we have something for next year, it’s just a case of trying to go and expand it.”

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Will Power, Roger Penske collect Indy 500 trophies

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
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DETROIT (AP) Last year, Will Power finally broke through and won the Indianapolis 500, so he can cross that accomplishment off the list.

Now 37, Power is reaching an age when it’s fair to wonder how much longer he’ll keep at it.

“I’m really enjoying my racing. I’ve never been so motivated. I’m fitter than I’ve ever been, mentally on the game,” Power said. “I think once you get to this part of your career, you realize that you’re not going to be doing this forever. So you’ve got to enjoy it and you’ve got to go for it when you’ve got it, because, you know, probably only another five years at maximum, and you’re retired.”

Whenever Power’s career does wind down, his 2018 Indy 500 win will remain a moment to remember. He was in Detroit on Wednesday night with team owner Roger Penske for a ceremony in which they received their “Baby Borg” trophies for winning last year’s race. The Baby Borgs are replicas of the Borg-Warner Trophy that honors the Indy 500 winner.

Power finished second at Indy in 2015, and his victory last year made him the race’s first Australian winner. It was Penske’s 17th Indy 500 win as an owner, part of a banner year for him. Penske also won a NASCAR Cup title with driver Joey Logano.

“When you think about 2018, we had 32 race wins, 35 poles. I think we led almost 5,400 laps, with all the series,” Penske said.

On Wednesday, Penske collected another significant trophy, and he’ll be celebrated again in a couple weeks. He’s being inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Feb. 1.

“It’s amazing that a guy from the north can get into the Hall of Fame in the south,” Penske joked. “No, it’s special. … NASCAR has helped us build our brand over the years, certainly, with the reputation it has, and the notoriety we get, being a NASCAR team owner.”

Penske’s most recent Indy 500 title came courtesy of Power, who long preferred road courses to ovals but certainly looked comfortable at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year.

“The 500 was one record that he didn’t have, and I think you saw the excitement he and his wife, and the whole team, when he was able to win the race,” Penske said. “He’s probably the best qualifier we’ve ever had, as a road racer, and no question his expertise. He didn’t like ovals to start with, but I think today, he loves racing on ovals.”

Power seems content with all aspects of his racing life at the moment. The aftermath of an Indy 500 victory can be a whirlwind, and it would be understandable for a driver to be weary of it eight months later, but for Power, it’s a new experience.

“I’ve been looking forward to this event for a few months now, to actually get the Baby Borg. You have the face on it – I didn’t realize that, you actually get your own face on it,” Power said. “It makes you realize the significance of the event, when you think about all the things that come with winning the 500.”

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