A miracle “Hail Mary” by Jack Harvey put him on the grid for the 2023 “Indianapolis 500” at the expense of Graham Rahal.
The Briton made two qualifying attempts without success during Last Chance Qualifying this Sunday, with Christian Lundgaard and Sting Ray Robb both playing their last chance to reach the grid.
Lundgaard, Robb and Rahal all made the same starts, posting 229.649, 229.549 and 229.159 mph respectively, while Harvey was close behind at 228.477 mph. After making extensive spring and downforce adjustments, the No. 30 starter returned to the track, though he only improved to 228.929 mph.
With new tyres, and despite the risk of having a hot engine, Harvey gambled for a third attempt with 1m28s on the clock. While his first two laps looked uncompetitive, a big climb in the third and fourth gave him a top speed of 229.166 mph. In cumulative time, this was equal to five thousandths.
As Harvey makes his seventh 500 start, Rahal Letterman sits out the weekend at Lanigan Racing for the first time in 16 attempts.
“So things are. I told Jack last night, ‘We knew it was between me and him. We knew it,'” he told the media after the session.
“At the end of the day, as I told him, ‘I can’t believe you’re not more stressed,’ because the plan was in place, we just had to go out and execute it to the best of our ability. If it works out , then it works, but if it doesn’t, eventually … it was a minute away.”
« We had a failure with the Wet Jacker on the street. It got stuck on the right, it messed up the balance on the car, the way the right rear changes because of the aerodynamics, but you couldn’t do anything.”
“It happened on the first lap, we tried to make adjustments on the car, which was on the front strip, and unfortunately everything that happened (in our favor) didn’t happen.”
It comes 30 years after his father Bobby, the 1986 winner and reigning CART champion at the time, pulled out of the competition.
Regarding the failure of the weight jacker, Rahal indicated that it had appeared during morning practice, but could not be modified due to regulations or the entire car had to be replaced, as it was an urgent request.
Although he believed he could have made a difference, the fact that one of the squad cars had been abandoned made the situation bitter.
Meanwhile, Harvey described being calm as he removed the downforce after every start, took no aggressive action on the car, yet believed his staff when they told him that his record could be improved.
But in the end, the bitter feeling of leaving a teammate off the grid makes you reflect on the contradictions of this difficult experience.
“I’ve never been in this position before, so it’s a learning moment,” he said.
«Graham is a good friend, he invited me to be part of his team, I hate to take a car out of the team, but the reality is, when you have three out of four (cars in) on the last chance Yes, you do not have high hopes».
“I’m grateful to be in the race, but I hate what it means for the team. It’s kind of a ying-yang feeling.”