(via FanSided) – Jack Harvey rejoins the Verizon IndyCar Series in Sunday’s Grand Prix of Portland, and the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver previewed the race.
The Grand Prix of Portland is the penultimate Verizon IndyCar Series race of 2018, and it’s also an important race for Jack Harvey, who returns to Schmidt Peterson Motorsports on Sunday.
Harvey, who is running a partial season for SPM in partnership with Meyer Shank Racing, has not been in IndyCar since Mid-Ohio. But he’s determined to nab his first Top 10 of the 2018 IndyCar season in the last race before the season finale.
FanSided spoke to Harvey ahead of race day to discuss how running a partial schedule affects a driver’s preparation, why he’s so passionate about the Verizon IndyCar Series, and what he took away from his time in Indy Lights that’s helped him in IndyCar.
Read what he had to tell us below, then don’t miss Jack Harvey in the 2018 Grand Prix of Portland this Sunday.
FanSided: How do you approach the Grand Prix of Portland, as a driver who wants to win and to race well, but also isn’t in the championship battle? Does knowing what’s on the line for others change how you race?
Jack Harvey (JH): It’s a interesting dynamic right now. A handful of them are still vying for the championship; obviously we aren’t. That being said, because we only did a partial season, we race like every race is our last, because we’re trying to go out there and impress our partners, our sponsors, the other teams.
We’re not bothered if we finish fourth or fifth from a points perspective, but it’s still very important for us to go out there and have a good end of the year, because a good end of the year may snowball us into opportunities to do more races next year.
FanSided: You’ve been out of the car since July 29 at Mid-Ohio. What’s the process for a driver who doesn’t compete every week, when you don’t have that weekly routine?
JH: It’s tough. There’s nothing beyond IndyCar in terms of its competitiveness. You don’t know how the weekend’s going to play out, you know they’re always exciting, and you’ve got the best drivers in the world with the best teams … To come in and out as we have done is absolutely better than just doing the Indy 500.
I’ll be the first person to say we’re still in a good situation; however it does make it tough on me in terms of driving. Some things just don’t feel too familiar for me, so it takes me a little bit longer than some of the other drivers who are doing the whole year to hit that kind of limit, to extract the maximum lap time from the car that we can.
I know as well [that] as a team, we’re not very well funded in that regard or we’d be doing the whole season. If I go out and push the car 100 percent, and completely just write it off in an accident, then we might not be in the next race. [Keeping] kind of a balance between all of makes it hard. I’m not shaking off cobwebs every time; it’s just some things have taken me a bit longer to build up to the limit.
Also for our crew, our pit stops haven’t been bad; they’ve not been awesome, so I think it’s tough for them to get into that habit and rhythm of doing it week in and week out. Hopefully next year we can do more races, it would be a benefit to me and the car, but also to those guys in the pit lane, to make those a little bit sharper.
I think our season has gone pretty well. We’re learning stuff every time. We’re getting better every time. Everybody at the race team and [in the] partnerships have made me feel extremely welcome. Collectively we’re all working hard to expand my program…I love my team. I feel they’re 100 percent behind me and I trust them that when we’re in a situation where I need them to, they will absolutely deliver.
FanSided: You’ve been with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in some respect for several years, so how is it to be with this organization again for the 2018 season?
JH: It’s been a great year. I think Robert [Wickens]’s been a great addition to the driver lineup. He pushes James [Hinchcliffe] and they’re extremely good friends even away from the track. They made some changes to the engineering room, which seem to have really picked up the program.
I’ve been with Schmidt Peterson since 2014. This is a place that feels like my home. I know all the guys. Some of the guys are in the shop and don’t come to the races; they are working hard all the time. And then the guys that come to the track, you see how hard they work … I’m very happy for the guys involved and obviously happy we’re part of the team. learning and trying to take as much out of it as we can.
FanSided: How vital was your experience in Indy Lights to your Verizon IndyCar Series career?
JH: Coming from Europe,mI thought it was extremely important. I’d never done any oval racing, so that was a whole new thing for me to learn. Robert Wickens is a rookie [in IndyCar], but he’s 29. He’s a rookie with a huge amount of experience. The way he’s adapted has been absolutely incredible, but I think he’s adapted well because he’s got that experience. So for anybody around that age, I think you could jump into IndyCar without having done Indy Lights.
Some of the younger kids I don’t see the need to race into IndyCar. I think Indy Lights definitely made me more well rounded, helped me learn oval racing which was a big shock to the system, but we ran one at the [Indy] 500 this year and went okay. A lot of things I learned in Indy Lights, I applied in that race.
Honestly, I’m more than happy with the time I spent in Indy Lights and would recommend doing it to other people as well … The first time I got an IndyCar test was halfway through year two, and I felt like I did a really good job and executed well because I knew I was ready for it. I wasn’t hoping I was ready for it; I knew that I was.
FanSided: You raced in several European series before coming to IndyCar. How does the IndyCar experience compare to racing in Europe?
JH: I love it in America, just as a whole. I’ve been here for nearly five years. I love living here, I love racing here. I don’t know why, but I was always somewhat drawn to the States. I just wanted to be here, so any opportunity that came up, I said yeah. I haven’t really turned back since.
It feels pure. If anyone watches Formula 1 at the moment, it’s a little bit boring. You’ve got your few top teams. You couldn’t predict the winner of an IndyCar race. If you can predict it, you should be doing something better than predicting IndyCar winners.
People have really embraced me here. I feel like an honorary Hoosier right now. I live in Indianapolis; I have no interest in going back to Europe full-time and racing. Of course I miss my family, but the more time I spend over in America, the more I enjoy it. I hope this American dream isn’t over; it hasn’t stopped yet.