Harvey: RLL enticing because it’s “very good across the board”

Jack Harvey says his move to Rahal Letterman Lanigan-Honda was so tempting because of the team’s consistency and its ability to get its drivers to the front on racedays.

Harvey, whose decision to leave Meyer Shank Racing was announced back in July, was only today confirmed as the driver of RLL’s newly full-time #45 Hy-Vee entry for 2022.

After expressing his gratitude to team co-owners Bobby Rahal, David Letterman and Mike Lanigan, as well as team president Piers Phillips, Harvey said he had been impressed with the squad’s “hunger and desire” and the “incredible” commitment of sponsor Hy-Vee, Inc. And he said it was watching playbacks of the races, and the form of his new-for-2022 teammate Graham Rahal that convinced him that he should join RLL.

“I look at our season, and it was filled with a lot of potential, but too many coulda-woulda-shouldas,” he said today. “I would look every weekend and watch the races back, and I always felt like Graham's race pace was exceptionally strong, and as a team [RLL] always found a way to get their drivers to the front. There’s definitely been a few races where I was envious of that…

“You look at their season, and the cars always run really well at Indy, which is evident because they've won it extremely recently [2020 with the departing Takuma Sato] and Graham has been very strong this year.

“I thought the #45 at the end of the year was running pretty strong, as well, and ultimately I think the team expanding to three cars is a great move for everybody. But their consistency, and when you see all three cars be quick and have the opportunity to be quick, that's what you want to be a part of.

“I feel like what I can bring to the team is… keep our qualifying performances going, but also be able to improve on our race pace, which I feel like between me and the team, we should be ticking a lot of those boxes.

“There's just a lot of really great things that everybody at RLL is doing, which made that such an enticing opportunity. Again, like I said, it wasn't one particular thing, it was just the team is very, very good across the board.”

Harvey also said that he believed being with RLL would raise his own level of performance.

“I think everyone is in a constant state of improvement in IndyCar,” said the 28-year-old Briton. “We noticed this year that what was good enough one weekend isn't good enough the next weekend. It's about trying to be as perfect as you can be all the time, and I want to work on that in the off-season.

“I would say I was particularly impressed with Graham's tire degradation throughout the races… We for sure had good tire deg at some tracks, and I thought our fuel saving was strong, but there were other tracks where I think we burnt the tires off a little bit more.

“I just want to go make myself better. I want to elevate myself, to elevate Graham, elevate the team, and then inherently elevate myself again because all the other people have raised the bar.

“IndyCar is relentless. It's relentless for everybody to be improving and to be better, and I feel like a lot of the ingredients are there to go and have an incredible season next year. But it doesn't just happen. It's an incredible amount of hard work. I've already started going into the shop. For me and everybody and to familiarize myself with ‘the RLL way’, we want to hit the ground running straight away.”

Rahal, a three-time champion as a driver, said he hoped to confirm the new driver of the #30 car vacated by Sato “by the end of the month”, but is already certain that his two confirmed drivers will be good for each other.

“I think for sure Jack, Graham will push each other,” he said. “That does great things for a team because it just raises the competitiveness of the team. All you have to do is look at Roger [Penske], what his team has been like over the years, or Chip [Ganassi]. You've got to have guys within the organization that are pushing each other and really trying to make it better. And so I'm really pleased that Jack agreed to come along with us. I can't think of a better representative for Hy-Vee and RLL, both on and off the track. That's why we're here today.”

The RLL team has long been populated by strong personnel, but the team hasn’t scored more than two wins in a season since 2004. Asked what it would take to push RLL to the level of regular winners and title contenders again, Rahal said, “Having three competitive cars is going to help that for sure…

“We continue to try to bring the best possible people we can into the team. I'm very fortunate that my partners, Mike and Dave, are willing to make those kinds of commitments, and I guess there's no better example of that than the building that is going up in Zionsville, which I believe will be a world-class racing facility and will presumably help us become even more competitive.

“I think if you look at the races we've had over the last several years, there's been a lot of races where probably we were in a pretty good position to win and then yellow flags would come out and that was that. But as Jack said, come race day, regardless of where we qualified, we've been able to figure out a way forward and then to take advantage of that.

“You know, as I said earlier, Jack is just one cog in this new machine that's going to help along with Graham and our third driver to help drive us forward, and we're going to continue to invest in the team and its resource and its people. Obviously we're quite happy with our relationship with Honda. We think they've done a great job over the years…

“You know, the big thing in any championship quest is to minimize the DNFs, minimize the issues. This year Graham had a lot of top 5s, I think seven or eight top 5s, a couple sixths, a couple sevenths, but you've got to win. And then you can't have things like when we didn't finish Indy; that's double points, that kills you if you don't finish Indy in a good spot.

“You've got to be counted every day. That's why you really need to build that strong team, have strong drivers that will push each other forward to being in that lead group every race weekend. You do that, you're going to win your fair share of races.”

Harvey confirmed that he would be happy to add the IMSA endurance races to his schedule should the RLL team earn the deal to run BMW’s new LMDh prototypes from 2023.

“I'm pretty free on them weekends, so if he wanted to maybe make that happen, I would be pretty excited about it!” he said. “That being said, my first focus obviously is to make sure the #45 Hy-Vee Honda is running at the front, and in my experience in racing so far, good results on track make other things happen. So before we get carried away on thinking and dreaming about other championships, my No. 1 focus, my only focus is the IndyCar Series…

“To answer the question, yes, I would definitely be interested in doing it. I think LMDh is going to be an absolutely awesome program. Who knows what'll happen in that department in the first place? But my focus of course is to stick to INDYCAR until we're getting the job done there.

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