This isn’t how Jack Harvey envisioned the start to his new chapter with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
You could try and put a positive spin on Harvey’s RLL debut by saying he’s gotten all of the misfortune out of the way at the first two rounds, but the more honest assessment comes from acknowledging the disappointing outcomes as a pair of big crashes have blighted Harvey’s introduction to the No. 45 Honda.
With a crash in practice that slowed his progress at St. Petersburg, Harvey salvaged a run to 13th in the race, but after suffering a concussion in a crash at Texas Motor Speedway that led to the Briton being parked for the race, he arrives in Southern California holding 25th in the Drivers’ standings.
Despite the unsavory opening to his sixth season in IndyCar, Harvey finds himself cleared to drive and ready to start fresh this weekend at Long Beach. It will take a complete reversal of fortunes to dig out of the championship hole, but as the soon-to-be 29-year-old says, great potential with the No. 45 program has been hidden beneath the adversity.
“If you look at the first two weekends, there’s been a lot of really good things to happen, just without an end result,” Harvey told RACER. “There’s a huge amount of optimism within the team, and certainly, no one’s panicking. It’s fair to say that the first two rounds haven’t gone exactly how we hoped, but it’s not like they’ve been without any promise. There’s still a huge amount of optimism and hopefulness from me that things are going to go well.
“I texted the team after I found out I was medically cleared and it was a case of, ‘We’re gonna go to Long Beach and push as hard as we can to try and win.’ It’s pretty simple thing. I think there’s some things that we’ve had to work through. We’re trying to address just finding more performance, ultimately, but so are most teams. We’ll get our season back on track, and honestly, good things that are happening with RLL. We just need to put them together in one complete weekend, which is the goal for us at Long Beach.”
With its expansion to three cars, the addition of Harvey and Christian Lundgaard alongside RLL veteran Graham Rahal, and growth within its engineering group, high expectations to vie for championships are held for the team owned by Bobby Rahal, David Letterman, and Mike Lanigan.
With Rahal entering Long Beach placed 12th in the standings and Lundgaard in 15th, Harvey says better results are on the way.
“The mindset and the goal within the team is to win immediately, and we’ve all had speed, but everyone’s still learning each other,” he added. “Didn’t happen in St. Pete. Didn’t happen in Texas, but it absolutely can happen in Long Beach. And why not? There’s a lot of new components this year to come together for us, and except for [Team Penske’s championship leader] Scott McLaughlin, it’s been a bit of a jumbled season for everybody, really.
“From our side, no one is even close to the panic button. Graham’s run well; Texas was a perfect example, but he got taken out, and Christian has been fast, but none of us have had that clean weekend so far. I think with all the changes to the team that have been made, that are now really coming together, the worst thing that could happen is that we start to become desperate for results.”
Having crossed the finish line at Long Beach last year in seventh during his final drive for Meyer Shank Racing, Harvey definitely knows his way around the 2.0-mile circuit. His approach to leaving the negatives from St. Pete and Texas behind will be found this weekend in letting the sunny Long Beach skies and warm ocean wash the worries way.
“We’ve just got to go there, relaxed, happy, optimistic, and let it happen,” he said. “We have to do all the simple and basic things really well to have a good weekend. But also, you can’t force it to happen. When you start to force it to happen, that’s when people make more mistakes, and everybody is just a bit more tightly sprung. And it I’ve been through that before.
“I am not satisfied with how the season’s gone, and I want to win so bad, as does the team, and clearly the season hasn’t lived up to what we wanted it to be, so that’s fair. But I’m saying all of it while smiling. I haven’t lost any confidence. If anything, I’ve gone the other way, and got more confidence that together, we can achieve our common goal and that is to be competing at the front and competing for wins. I think good things are coming. You can feel it.”