Michael Shank Racing is in talks about a part-time IndyCar entry next season in partnership with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and with Jack Harvey as driver, Motorsport.com has learned.
Harvey, the 2012 British Formula 3 champion, twice finished runner-up in the Indy Lights championship, amassing six wins and five pole positions for Schmidt Peterson in 2014-15.
Although his IndyCar debut this past season came in a Michael Shank-run entry for Andretti Autosport in the Indianapolis 500, Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson brought Harvey back into their team to drive the #7 IndyCar at Watkins Glen and Sonoma. This was in response to Mikhail Aleshin’s departure from the squad, and followed a three-race substitution by Sebastian Saavedra.
Despite no recent testing, Harvey acquitted himself well, finishing his first two IndyCar roadcourse races without drama and qualifying just 0.3sec slower than SPM’s de facto team leader James Hinchcliffe in the California finale.
Shank, who tried to enter IndyCar for the 2012 season when the Dallara DW12 was launched, has made his name in sportscar racing, running a pair of Acura NSXs in IMSA’s GT Daytona category this year. Michael Shank Racing’s most famous wins came in the Prototype class, however, capturing glory in the 2012 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona and 2016 Petit Le Mans.
Schmidt told Motorsport.com: “Michael and I have an interest in running together but it’s still pretty wide open. I will say that I’ve known him for years and I respect his efforts and the caliber of his sportscar team.
“He quickly made the NSX a winner this year, and I realize he’ll have his hands full if that program is continuing, but for years we’ve discussed deals but never been able to put something together.
“This time… maybe. For now, the team is working its tail off to fund our fulltime cars [to be driven by Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens] and then move on down the road and get testing miles. It’s too early to speculate when anything else might get announced.”
Schmidt last weekend drove his ARROW Corvette Z06 to over 190mph at Nellis AFB in Nevada, during the Aviation Nation event, and the speed is believed to be a record for a quadriplegic driver. He said of a potential Harvey/Shank deal, which it is understood could include up to seven races, “Yeah, it’s a possibility. If I can drive at 192mph, I guess anything’s possible, right?!
“Seriously, after Sonoma this year we made it clear that we’d like to figure out how to do something with Jack perhaps on a limited schedule. But nothing’s done yet.”
Although Acura has not yet announced its IMSA GT Daytona plans for next season, it is believed that more than two NSXs could run in the class, with Michael Shank Racing remaining as one of the entrants.