Two-time Indy Lights runner-up Jack Harvey, who will make his IndyCar race debut at the Indianapolis 500 with Andretti Autosport next month, says that none of the other ‘one-off’ Indy entries has a better opportunity.
Harvey finished second in Indy Lights in 2014 with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, repeated the feat in 2015 and also tested an IndyCar for SPM last year. With this move he joins the team of one of Sam Schmidt's major rival team owners, Michael Andretti.
Addressing the media at Long Beach on Sunday, Harvey said: “I think for any driver trying to compete in the 500 would be a bucket list race. I honestly didn't really realize what the 500 was all about, the significance of it, the grandeur of it. I went in 2014, fell in love with it. It is truly the greatest sporting spectacle I've ever seen.
“To get my first opportunity there with Andretti Autosport is a dream come true because everybody knows what a great team they are. I think as a single-race entry for the 500 this year, there's nobody that has a better opportunity. I think a lot of the regular-season drivers would like to have this also.”
Although Harvey has conquered the Speedway in the Freedom 100, the Indy Lights race that runs at IMS on the Friday before the 500, he admitted his new ride would be on an altogether different level.
“I’m super excited, a little bit nervous with a team that has a great record, obviously, two of the last three victories. Last year they covered the strategies both ways. They set the bar pretty high. Just going to do my best to deliver a strong performance.”
Team owner Michael Andretti emphasized that his team’s extra entry is more than just an extra.
“I think we pride ourselves… we've proven it's not just an add-on entry, it's an entry that contributes to the overall program. You see how competitive that car's been the last three or four years.
“So we're really happy that we were able to get Jack nailed down for the car. OK, he hasn't driven IndyCar, but he's won in Indy Lights, he's won the Freedom 100. We know what Indy Lights are all about. We know what it takes to win those races. If you can win there, you can be competitive in the big cars.
“We feel very confident that Jack's going to be able to do a good job for us, contribute to the effort of the other four cars. I think the other thing is, we've been able to bring up rookies. I think a fifth car is perfect for a rookie because he's going to have a lot of information from the other four cars, as well as the other four drivers helping him out. For a rookie, I don't think you can be in a better situation.”
The entry will be sponsored by AutoNation, which is America’s biggest auto retailer. Marc Cannon, executive VP says the company’s ongoing relationship as a sponsor of Ryan Hunter-Reay’s car had led to this expansion of its link-up. The team plans to use Hunter-Reay and Harvey in its “Drive Pink” initiative, which raises money to fight breast cancer.
Said Cannon: “The Andretti team, just top. You couldn't pick a better team. AutoNation is excited to continue the partnership.
“As you all know, we are committed to solving the entire cancer equation. We're raising millions and millions of dollars. We just saw the opportunity with Jack to tie him into our entire program.
“In May, we're going to launch a huge advertising campaign with Ryan. In June, we're going to be adding Jack to our advertising campaign.
“Michael's support has been absolutely incredible. There are other places we could have gone for the partnership. We're so excited to keep it all in the Andretti family.”