Harding Racing’s Larry Curry says the team’s first-ever IndyCar street course race at St. Petersburg had been “respectable” but that he was looking forward to tracks where the team has been able to test.
The relatively new team owned by Mike Harding, a paving company magnate, made just three IndyCar starts in 2017, all on ovals, and its driver Gabby Chaves scored ninth at Indy, fifth in Texas and 15th at Pocono.
This year, Harding Racing has gone full-time, but remains as a one-car squad. Chaves qualified eighth on the team’s street course debut at St. Petersburg before clocking a 14th-place finish.
Curry, the team manager and director, told Motorsport.com: “The car performed great. We had a miscue on our first pitstop – didn’t get the fuel valve handle pulled down all the way so it wasn’t delivering any fuel.
“At the time we pitted we’d been running sixth or seventh, and that problem put us too far back. It wasn’t a hole we could dig ourselves out of.”
Nontheless, Curry admitted that the performance rather than the result had been respectable, and in that regard he was encouraged.
“Yes, I’d say overall it was a very good weekend for our first street course. We started eighth and we held off [Scott] Dixon and a couple of Penskes for a while there; that was a good sign.
“We’re also happy with the steady progress we were able to make from session to session throughout the weekend; And that was a good qualifying run from Gabby in tricky [damp] conditions.
“Legitimately, without the pitstop issue, we could have run about eighth. We didn’t have anything for the front guys, but definitely a top 10 would have been possible.”
With the next race on April 7th being held at Phoenix’s ISM Raceway, Curry said that going to a track where Spring Training was held would be a big help.
“I’m very happy to be going to a track we tested on and made decent progress on. If we roll out somewhat off the pace, it will be hard to catch up because of the short sessions, but I think we can look respectable again.
“St. Pete was always going to be one of the difficult ones – not just because we’re quite new as a team, or that it was our street course debut but simply because we can’t get to test there.
“The important thing in Phoenix will be to keep making progress and have no significant errors. Just keep moving forward. At this stage, for us, it’s all about the learning and working together as a team.”