Jack Harvey had a day on track to match his personality Saturday in St. Petersburg, Florida – sunny.
The driver of the No. 60 AutoNation/Sirius XM Honda tied his career-best qualifying effort by landing the second-place starting spot for Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (noon ET, live on NBC and INDYCAR Radio Network).
Harvey put down a best lap in the Firestone Fast Six of 1 minute, .5709 of a second in his Meyer Shank Racing car. He held the top spot until the final seconds of the session, when Colton Herta jumped to No. 1 with a best lap of 1:00.3210 to score the NTT P1 Award for qualifying.
“It was a really great day,” said Harvey, 28. “I think we made some good changes overnight. We had a really good Practice 2. From what the (team) said, we looked good on blacks (primary Firestone tires), looked good on reds (alternate Firestone tires). Obviously, we didn't quite have enough to challenge for pole. I thought we did there for a little bit, but then they said Colton had done a (1:00.3210 lap time). At that point, I knew we already peaked.”
Harvey, who was third fastest in Saturday morning’s practice session, added to the two previous second-place starts already on his resume, both coming last season. After a dismal starting spot in the 2020 season-opening race at Texas, Harvey backed it up with two consecutive No. 2 starts, coming at the GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and at Road America-1.
Much like last season, Harvey didn’t start 2021 with the greatest qualifying effort – an 11th last weekend in the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama presented by AmFirst, where he also finished 11th.
Over the last year, the Brit has proven to be quite the qualifier in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. In 2020, he qualified outside the top 10 just three times, making him one of the best qualifiers in the entire paddock. That performance ranked just behind Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Herta, who led the series by only qualifying outside the top 10 twice.
Harvey attributes that success to his Meyer Shank Racing team, which has a technical partnership with Andretti Autosport, the team that took the pole position with Herta in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda. Harvey said he has great “pseudo-teammates,” as well as engineers he trusts that put a good car underneath him.
That combination means he usually has a strong car right off the truck, needing just fine-tuning during practice. And as a driver, well, Harvey just enjoys pushing the limits.
“I like the red tires,” Harvey said. “Give us some more grip, and we try to extract the maximum we can.
“The thing is, it's not just me. It's a team effort. With our technical partnership with Andretti Autosport, you see it in all their guys always being very quick no matter what. I think we've got a really good car.
“But (the field) is extremely competitive, really tight on time. After every session, even if you're the quickest guy, you're the second-quickest guy, there's still a lot to look at and learn from. Just being in a great environment really is what helps to be good in qualifying.”