By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
With the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season rapidly approaching, Motorsports Tribune is previewing each of the teams competing on the tour. The site’s IndyCar staff will break each team down, laying out their results from the previous season while previewing the year to come for the organization and their driver(s).
Team: Harding Racing
Drivers: Gabby Chaves
What Happened Last Year: The 2017 season was a year of feeling out the Verizon IndyCar Series for Harding Racing. The team bought a couple of new cars and some superspeedway bodywork to run the Indianapolis 500 and also the races at Texas Motor Speedway and Pocono Raceway.
Chaves finished ninth in the Indianapolis 500, fifth at the attrition-filled race at Texas and 15th at Pocono.
2018 Breakdown: This season will be a test of Mike Harding’s philosophy of all star management. Former INDYCAR race director and President of Race Operations Brian Barnhart is the team’s president. Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. is the teams’ executive consultant and experienced chief mechanic Larry Curry is the team manager.
Chaves will be competing his first full season in IndyCar since 2015 with Bryan Herta Autosport. That season, he was rookie of the year for both the Indianapolis 500 and the championship with a ninth at the second Detroit race and a tenth at Texas. He had one retirement at Pocono after leading 31 laps when his engine failed while running in fourth place with four laps to go.
Before going to IndyCar, Chaves won the 2014 Indy Lights championship via a second place tiebreaker with Jack Harvey. The Colombian and the Brit tied on points and had the same amount of wins but Chaves had five runner-up finishes to Harvey’s one. Chaves also did Indy Lights in 2013 and what was then known as Star Mazda in 2012.
The team tested at ISM Raceway in Phoenix at the open test and were in the bottom third of the time sheet on both days. Given that this was their first time testing the new car, more is yet to come. Sebring also saw the team complete more testing ahead of the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 11th.
With a solid managerial foundation, expect the team to have an experienced crew. If luck goes their way, a few top tens could be in play. However, with this being their first full season in IndyCar racing, the team has little to no past to go off of.