Editor’s note: Over the next two weeks, MotorSportsTalk will review how each organization in the IndyCar Series performed in 2018 and also taking a look ahead to 2019. We kicked off the series Wednesday with Juncos Racing.
Today, we feature Meyer Shank Racing and driver Jack Harvey.
Meyer Shank Racing 2018 review:
While no stranger to competitive racing in other forms of motorsports, Michael Shank Racing kicked off its foray into IndyCar racing with the 2017 Indianapolis 500, and then expanded to six races in 2018, also serving as an affiliate of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
One of the biggest elements to the season was bringing on SiriuxXM Satellite Radio President Jim Meyer as a team co-owner and partner, changing the team from Michael Shank Racing to Meyer Shank Racing.
The plan for 2019 is to expand to between 8 and 10 races, with expectations of competing as a full-time team in 2020.
Team name: Meyer Shank Racing
Years in IndyCar: 9 races over two seasons (2017 and 2018)
Career wins and podium finishes: 0 and 0
Best career finish: 12th at Long Beach 2018
2018 final standing: 24th
2018 final stats: 0 wins, 0 podiums, 0 poles
2018 best race finish: 12th at Long Beach
SEASON WRAPUP: Harvey held his own in a number of races during the 2018 season while behind the wheel of the No. 60 SiriusXM/AutoNation Honda. He was only a few laps away from potentially winning the Indianapolis 500 – running as high as second – before he had to pit with two laps remaining for fuel. Had the team’s pit strategy been different, the English driver could potentially have beaten Will Power to the checkered flag. Harvey had several strong runs, but his final finishing position in those races did not reflect his effort.
LOOKING AHEAD TO 2019: Harvey will be returning to the team next season and is looking forward to competing in an expected 8 to 10 races. The biggest thing Harvey needs is more seat time and experience, but he showed at times in 2018 that he definitely has a bright future in IndyCar.
QUOTE (following season finale at Sonoma): “Overall I think that we had a lot of great moments in the year, but I don’t think we ever got the result that we potential did have or that the team deserved. … I really have to thank everyone from Meyer Shank Racing and SPM (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports). And without AutoNation and SiriusXM, neither of us would be able to get to be here, so really the biggest thanks go to them. I’m optimistic and hopeful that next year we will do more races and have more opportunities to get a better result.”
Lawrence led all 16 laps of both races after taking the holeshot in the second moto and grabbing the lead from Dylan Ferrandis in Turn 2 of Moto 1. Lawrence claimed a four-second lead in Moto 1 and five seconds in Moto 2, but as dominant as it seems on paper, there were some exciting moments during the weekend. In the second race, Lawrence wanted to build an advantage that would allow him to maintain his pace and he nearly high-sided a couple of times in heavy ruts.
In his second race back from a concussion, Ferrandis finished in the runner-up spot with a second in Moto 1 and a third in Moto 2. While his finish of second overall goes into the record books, Pro Motocross points are rewarded for each individual race and that meant Ferrandis lost eight points in championship battle to Lawrence. With Sexton failing to mount up for the race, Ferrandis advanced to second in the standings with an 18-point gap to Lawrence. Equally important, Ferrandis gained ground in the SuperMotocross World Championship (WSX) points and now has a gap of 44 over 21st-place Justin Starling.
Cooper Webb is also in his second round since returning from a Supercross injury suffered in Nashville at the end of their season. Claiming results of fourth and second in the two races, Webb earned 40 SuperMotocross points at Hangtown and closed in on Sexton in the WSX battle. Sexton entered Hangtown with a large enough lead that he could not be overtaken, but he is now only 38 points up and could face a difficult decision next week at Thunder Valley in Lakewood, Colorado if he wants to hold onto his lead.
Aaron Plessinger had an adventurous weekend in which he seemed to close on Lawrence in his second race before crashing and dropping to fourth. Coupled with a fifth-place finish in Moto 1, he earned 35 points and was credited with fourth overall.
Cashing in on confidence he gained in the final rounds of the Supercross season, Adam Cianciarulo earned his first top-five of the Pro Motocross championship after narrowly missing out last week with a sixth. He earned the distinction with consistent results of fifth in Moto 1 and fourth in Moto 2.
The Lawrence brothers made history last week as the first siblings to win in two Pro Motocross divisions on the same day. Fans should get accustomed to seeing this happen with some regularity as Hunter Lawrence posted identical results in Hangtown to those he had at Fox Raceway in the season opener.
In both races, Lawrence got off to a slow start in Moto 1 and had to claw his way back to the podium. He dominated Moto 2 in both rounds to earn the overall victories.
Justin Cooper did not allow Lawrence to gain much of an advantage in the Motocross points’ standings, however. Finishing second in both motos, the earned only one point less than Lawrence. His modest showing in Round 1 of the outdoor season has him 12 points out of first in the championship standings.
Haiden Deegan scored his first moto win in just his fourth start in the series. In the first race of the day, he had to withstand constant pressure from Cooper, but when his teammate closed in on him, Deegan reached down and found a little more speed. Now that he’s won one of these races, he has his sight set on challenging Lawrence for the title. Deegan is second in the Pro Motocross championship standings with a 10-point deficit to the leader.
RJ Hampshire rounded out the top five with a pair of fifth-place results and 32 points for the round. Even though the deficit is a whopping 61 points, Hampshire climbed to second in the SuperMotocross championship standings now that Jett Lawrence has moved to the big bikes.
Jalek Swoll struggled last week and finished 21st overall at Fox Raceway. This week, he finished on the cusp of 10th in both races with a ninth in Moto 1 and 11th in Moto 2. In the SuperMotocross standings, he has a lot of ground to make up. He currently sits 49th on the chart with a 70-point gap to Chance Hymas, who is on the bubble to earn a guaranteed position in the SMX Mains for the three playoff races that will be held on September.