(via INDYCAR.com) – Perseverance is a quality that many would like to use to describe themselves. Others just put it to action.
Jack Harvey is not the many. He is the other.
The 24-year-old from Bassingham, Lincolnshire, England, was announced at the Performance Industry Trade Show in Indianapolis on Dec. 8 as the driver for the newly-formed Michael Shank Racing with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. A deal has been set for a minimum of six races during the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season.
It moves Harvey one step closer to being a full-time competitor in North America’s premier open-wheel series, something that has been in doubt at times in recent years.
“I mean, it’s been tough, mate,” Harvey admitted.
“Honestly, there were days when I thought it was definitely going to happen, days when I didn’t. Even as it got close to getting everything agreed and squared away, it was a case of some days where it was like, ‘Oh my God, it’s all going to topple over’ or not exactly get there. But I’ve always known what my goal is … to try and achieve in INDYCAR.”
While the opportunity took time to develop, Harvey’s confidence in himself never wavered. He also realizes he has a strong support group.
“I believe in myself. I’m extremely thankful and grateful for the people that have believed in me to give me this opportunity,” he said. “We’ve worked hard for it. There’s a few people who probably (didn’t) get mentioned in the press release (announcing the 2018 deal) who worked extremely hard to put it together for me.
“I’m just extremely grateful to all those people for their perseverance, which allowed me to persevere and get on track to deliver the best possible result for them, too. I’ve got a good team of people around me. I believe in them, they believe in me. And now, I’ve got two teams of people around me who I’ve raced with and are ready to vault me to the next step, too.”
In 2014, Harvey finished on the back end of a tie for the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires championship with Gabby Chaves. The result also cost him shot at a scholarship award to compete in the Verizon IndyCar Series for 2015. He returned to Indy Lights, the top level of the Mazda Road to Indy stepladder, but suffered another heartbreaking runner-up championship finish – this time to Spencer Pigot.
Harvey did not race in 2016 but did not give up on his dream. While others in a similar situation may have shifted their focus to sports cars or other racing avenues, Harvey stayed the course with his heart set at one day racing an Indy car at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
That moment finally came in May, with Harvey driving in the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. It’s where Harvey first linked with team owner Michael Shank, also making his Verizon IndyCar Series debut in an alliance with Andretti Autosport. While the results weren’t as planned – Harvey crashed out in 31st place after suffering a series of mechanical and electrical issues throughout practice – the framework for their 2018 pairing was set.
Harvey returned to action in the final two races of the 2017 season in a car for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports – for whom he had driven in Indy Lights and tested an Indy car on a couple occasions. With SPM’s technical assistance in 2018, Harvey is eager to put the sour memories of this year’s Indy 500 behind.
“I think it’s fair to say that Indy didn’t go how we wanted it to,” he said. “Every time we took a step forward, we somehow managed to find one to take a step back, which was disappointing.
“Honestly, getting another shot to go back there is amazing. I think anybody who competes at Indy is extremely lucky. There aren’t many people that get to do it one time, let alone twice. What we’re trying to do is make it a regular thing, which would be absolutely incredible.
“I know Michael is coming in with a lot of determination. Especially when we get back to Indy because it’s the crown jewel of the whole year, a lot of effort will go into making sure that we’re competitive.”
The current plan calls for Harvey to drive in races at St. Petersburg, Long Beach, Mid-Ohio, Portland and Sonoma in addition to the Indy 500. He is looking forward to sharing information with pseudo-teammates James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens at SPM. It will be familiar territory for Harvey, since he was paired with Hinchcliffe for the final two races of 2017, collecting a career-best of 14th place at Watkins Glen.
“The goal is to try and push them as hard as I can on the limited chances that I get and move forward from there to show everybody that I’ve got enough talent to be in INDYCAR,” Harvey said. “I’ve worked hard to be here. It has been tough, there’s no doubt about that. But as far as I look at it, it’s six opportunities to try and show people I deserve a full-time drive.”