“Our car is one of their cars, basically, so we can go to the track and be competitive week in, week out,” says Harvey. “Everybody shares data, so there’s lots of information to draw on and look at. Sometimes it’s so hard, because there’s just so much information to look at. The opportunity to learn is really high: no matter how quick you are, you’re never the fastest driver in every corner.”
That learning, along with Harvey’s growing experience, has been reflected in the pace he has managed this year, if not his results. Harvey has shown genuine pace, qualifying second on the Indianapolis road course and at Road America. He ran third at the Indianapolis Grand Prix before an unfortunately timed caution period shuffled him down the order, and later a brake failure put him out of fifth place at Road America.
Still, two seventh places at the Iowa Speedway short oval – a track type on which Harvey still lacks form – showed real promise. “That has given us the confidence we can do it on all the tracks North America has to offer,” he says. “Everything is ticking away and heading in a nice direction.”
While numerous British drivers have competed in Indycar in recent years, following the path set by Indycar Series champions and Indy 500 winners Dario Franchitti and Dan Wheldon, Harvey is the only one racing full time in 2020.
Of course, this has been no ordinary season. The pandemic has resulted in the Indycar Series calendar basically being thrown into a blender, with championship bosses scrabbling to pull together a schedule as states suffer varying levels of coronavirus outbreak and impose differing restrictions. Events have been moved, altered, axed or postponed; shortly after Autocar talked to Harvey, a double-header of races at Mid-Ohio was postponed at the last minute.
Having battled for years to enter a season with the certainty of a full schedule, Harvey has had to face complete uncertainty. “We’ve worked from the start of 2017 to finally go full time, we make it happen, we’re all excited and suddenly we get this and it’s ‘wait, what?’,” he says.
But he believes that the uncertainty could play to Meyer Shank’s advantage. “Some teams are used to doing it full time, they understand the schedule and the rhythm and momentum and it builds, and that’s great,” he says. “But we’re used to being part-time and having gaps and breaks in our schedule: we’re used to doing three races, then having a month or several off. So this is a team that can find a half-step between part time and full time.
“The other positive we haven’t had before is that, whether it’s eight weekends or 14 and whether they’re double-header races or not, we know we’re going to every test and every race. It gives us a cup-half-full approach.”