Jack Harvey wasn’t in the room when Graham Rahal, his new NTT INDYCAR SERIES teammate, recently heaped praise on him. But in this high-speed sport, word often travels as fast as the race cars.
In particular, Rahal said he appreciates Harvey living in Indianapolis to help locally based Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing on a regular basis and to be present to offer the crew members new ideas, including some being used by Andretti Autosport, to which Harvey had access while driving for Meyer Shank Racing.
“It gives us the access to him and vice versa at all times, (and) I do think that’s really going to help push the program forward,” Rahal said. “I’m excited by that.”
Rahal also said Harvey “is way more interested” and “has a lot more questions” than some of his past teammates about all aspects of the organization, including the personal side of the crew members, and that helps form a tighter bond.
Harvey said Rahal’s observations about his working style are on target and not by accident.
“It’s really kind of Graham to say that because that is the exact reason why in the offseason I stay in Indy,” said Harvey, driver of the No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda. “I’m building my life in Indianapolis because I want to be part of a team. That’s what I said to (Rahal) when I was going to join, that I wasn’t just going to swan in and swan out or anything like that. I want to help the team and elevate the team.”
Throughout INDYCAR, there are many new dynamics in play for the 2022 season, which begins Feb. 27 with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding (live coverage at noon ET on NBC, Telemundo and INDYCAR Radio Network). Harvey joining the team owned by Bobby Rahal, David Letterman and Mike Lanigan might not be overshadowed by some, but it is intriguing on many levels.
First, Harvey obviously had so much confidence in RLL that he was willing to Meyer Shank Racing, which jump-started his INDYCAR career with an entry in the 2017 Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. Harvey had a terrific bond with team owners Michael Shank and Jim Meyer, and he seemed to have unprecedented security with a team that, like RLL, is growing and primed to take a big step this season as a two-car team now with Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud. MSR also now knows what it takes to win the “500.”
Both teams are finalizing new shops, and RLL’s will be less than 10 miles from Harvey’s Central Indiana home of the past several years. At RLL, Harvey has joined an intriguing driver lineup led by Rahal, who has proven to be one of the best race-day performers in the paddock. Harvey is highly regarded as a qualifier, and the two hope to learn things from one another. Their other teammate is Christian Lundgaard, a highly regarded Danish driver who won two races in FIA Formula 2.
“I’ve always thought Graham manages his tires really well in the race – they always seem like they have really good degradation,” Harvey said. “Seems like (RLL’s) strategy is always very good.
“(In events) where we were struggling last year, it seemed like (RLL) was very good, and we saw how quick Christian is from the one time he got to race in North America.”
Lundgaard qualified fourth and finished 12th in his maiden NTT INDYCAR SERIES race last year in the Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
“I think between all of us we’re going to push each other really hard,” Harvey said. “I think the nice thing that we have right now is that we all seem to naturally get along very well. We understand what it’s like to be in a team, and we want to work together to elevate the team and then inevitably push each other, which makes us better, which pushes the team, elevates (it), and we just want to put in some good building blocks to be successful all season.”
Harvey enters the season with 49 career INDYCAR starts but no race wins, and he is driven like few others to finally reach victory lane. Rahal knows that from their brief tussle in one of last year’s races at Texas Motor Speedway, and that was a topic in the dinner they shared after Harvey signed with the team. Another topic was Harvey’s commitment to the team.
Said Harvey of Rahal: “He had said to me what he was wanting in a teammate and how things had been (in the past), and I just said to him … I think you’re going to be pretty happy and surprised by my commitment, my dedication and the effort that I want to put into the team to be successful, and I want to do it with you.
“At the end of the day, me, Christian and Graham, we all agree that we want to see the team one, two, three on the podium, but then you imagine we disagree on the order that we stand on the podium, which is completely natural and normal.”