By Christopher DeHarde, IndyCar & Road to Indy Writer
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — Jack Harvey’s first natural terrain road course race in the Verizon IndyCar Series had a little bit of everything on Sunday. Starting 18th, the Brit had to deal with a drying track after significant morning rain and several off strategy calls.
One of those calls went Harvey’s way as his team brought him in to pit on Lap 12 before a caution came out a few laps later for Takuma Sato’s stopped car in Turn 6.
Harvey’s pit stop before the caution meant that he didn’t have to come in under the new caution and the 2014 and 2015 Indy Lights runner up found himself in fifth place for a couple of laps.
“I felt that first (scheduled) pit stop put us into a dream situation,” said Harvey. “We came out I think P5, but the problem was we didn’t have the straight line speed and that was just because we were a little over aero’d.”
By over “aero’d,” Harvey meant that the team attempted a wet setup for the car thinking that there would be more rain coming, but that it never came.
“I think perhaps everybody was [using a wet setup] because there was another cloud of rain that looked like it was coming in,” said Harvey. “I don’t know, it’s always easy to be smart after but I think everybody around us was a little less than we were so we could’ve just been braver.”
“I know it necessarily wasn’t the goal this weekend to go and be in the front, but I think we had pace to be further up than where we were. I think we made good progress all weekend so I’m honestly pretty happy. You know as a driver, being competitive you’re not going to be ecstatic finishing where we were, but I think for everything we were trying to achieve this weekend we actually did. I think it’s a good step for Sonoma and just keep building and working from there.
“I think the time sheet never really reflected how much progress we were making. Even in qualifying we were over aero’d, I was losing like .7 seconds to James (Hinchcliffe) up to the bus stop, but then would only finish (the lap) about a half second off. So I mean, I feel like I did a pretty good job this weekend.
“I don’t think the time sheet probably reflected as well as I think it genuinely went but again, I think we all accomplished what we set out to do this weekend. We made progress, integrated well, I knew the guys from the team anyway but it’s the first weekend. We all worked well together. They know me now a little more, I know them a little more now and yeah, it was a good situation and I do genuinely think it’s a good platform to go to Sonoma with some confidence in.”
Harvey was 20th and 18th in the two Friday practice sessions, 19th in the Saturday practice and qualified 18th. Not the best showing on the surface but considering that all four wheels were still on the car being loaded onto the transporter, everything went about as well as expected, but Harvey would have done a couple of things differently looking back.
“In times in the weekend, I wish we had left the downforce alone but we had to try and build some confidence,” Harvey said.
“I don’t think it was the wrong thing, but kind of looking back I think I could’ve gotten there without having to add it. I think the team did a really good job this weekend, I think I would like us to take a little more risk in Sonoma, after that I do think we accomplished everything we wanted to this weekend it’s just we keep building on it.”
Looking ahead to 2018, Harvey is hopeful about where he can end up.
“We’ve got one more race in 2017 to worry about first, but either a half season or a full season would be good and just trying to find a home.
“So I think this weekend is trying to prove to all the guys here that given the opportunity I can do the job and keep getting better like we did and who knows where we’ll end up, but hopefully I gave a good account of myself.”