By Josh Farmer, Contributing 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).
What happened Last Year: DRR paired up with young American Sage Karam for the third time. Unable to replicate their near come-from-behind run in 2016, Karam struggled much of the day and dropped out on lap 125 with mechanical issues.
2018 Indy 500 expectation: Karam will return to the wheel of the No. 24 Wix FiltersChevrolet for the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500. Although he has not finished the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” since his rookie year, the 23-year-old Pennsylvanian has proven that he can run well at the Indy 500. His lone finish in the 500 came with DRR in 2014, where he ended the race in ninth after starting 31st. A good run in 2016 ended early when contact with Townsend Bell eliminated him while he was running in the top five. If things can all come together, Karam could easily be a Dark Horse for the 500.
Team: Lazier Partners Racing
Driver: Buddy Lazier
What Happened Last Year: Buddy Lazier moved into eighth on the all-time start list with his 20th Indianapolis 500 last year. His day ended early when he crashed on lap 122.
2018 Indy 500 expectation: The 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner is expected to return to his family-run operation for their fifth 500 as a team. They could face the challenge of qualifying against a stacked field of entries. With over 33 cars expected to be on the entry list, it will come down to how much speed they can find in their car. The team has run a limited practice run in three out of their four starts due to a shortened engine lease. The had financial support from Indianapolis contractor Thom Burns in 2016 and ran the whole week of practice. More time in the car will allow them to find the speed necessary to make the field.
What happened last year: After a failed attempt in 2012, sportscar magnate Michael Shank made his debut as a Verizon IndyCar Series owner at the Indianapolis 500 in a joint effort with Andretti Autosport. Jack Harvey piloted the No. 50 XM Satellite Radio Honda at the 500, but crashed out on lap 122.
2018 Expectations: Harvey and Shank will team up again for a six-race effort (St. Petersburg, Long Beach, Indy 500, Mid-Ohio, Portland and Sonoma). The team will receive support from Schmidt Peterson Motorsports but will prepare the No. 60 XM Satellite Radio Honda out of Shank’s shop in Columbus, Ohio.
Shank has built a respectable operation in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and its forerunner series – the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. The team has claimed wins in both Prototype and GT-Daytona competition with arguably their biggest victory coming in the 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Harvey will also see his long-term goal of racing in IndyCar realized in 2018. Driving for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, the 24-year-old Britton was twice a runner-up in the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tire Championship (2014-15) and has been working to put an IndyCar deal together for the last few years. The former British Formula 3 champion gained some additional experience for SPM replacing Mikhail Aleshin for the season’s final two races (Watkins Glen, Sonoma) and finished 14th and 18th respectively. The only thing lacking for Harvey and the team is track time with the new car, having tested only two days in the offseason.