The Meyer Shank Racing-Honda driver was one of the stars of qualifying, on a day when two Team Penske-Chevrolets failed to graduate from Q1 and no Chip Ganassi Racing-Hondas made it beyond Q2.
Harvey set his best lap on Lap 2 in the Firestone Fast Six, and was beaten by semi-teammate, Andretti Autosport-Honda’s Colton Herta, who ran four laps. However, the 28-year-old Briton was able to edge this weekend’s previous pacesetter, Josef Newgarden, to grab second on the grid. This will be his third front-row start in the series.
However, Harvey was absurdly unfortunate in 2020, his first full-time season in IndyCar, regularly qualifying well but never finishing better than sixth, and ultimately finishing only 15th in the championship.
Asked if that would make a difference in how he races tomorrow’s GP of St. Pete, and whether he might just settle for a podium, he responded: “If the opportunity is there to win, we’ll go for it… I think at this stage of the year, for anybody, if you can win, that would be epic.
“If we came out with a podium – hopefully no less than that [given] where we’re starting – that would also be a really great result for everybody. It just keeps the season going in a positive direction.
“I think last year we did really have some great qualifying performances. I think some of the bad luck was self-inflicted with some strategy calls and whatnot. Some of them were maybe just bad luck.
“Like I said to the guys, the more times we put ourselves in a good position to have a good race, it’s going to come our way. I’m happy that coming into this weekend we put ourselves again in a good position to have a great race.
“After that, we just have to try and execute what we think is the best tomorrow. If it’s good, then we’ll pat ourselves on the back. If it’s not good, we’ll try to learn from it, go again next weekend.”
On the matter of how aggressive he might be with Herta – what Harvey described as a “pseudo teammate”, given Meyer Shank Racing’s technical relationship with Andretti Autosport – Harvey said he would race him “as hard as we can without crashing really.
“The thing is, we all want to get through the first lap safely. We all want to get through it P1 obviously but if we settle into P2, try to stretch away from the others, that would be a great result. It’s the third time now the #60 has started on the front row, always starting P2 to a really great driver…
“I am pretty respectful to all the guys. I think that’s the nice thing about working together as a team… I always really enjoy racing with Colton.
“I don’t think getting through Turn 1 is going to be any big issues or big dramas. Certainly, like I said, if the opportunity is there to win, we’ll go for it. If it’s not there to win, we’ll consolidate hopefully as high as possible.”
Harvey does have a podium finish to his name, finishing third in the wet on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course two years ago. Asked what made him such a good qualifier, Harvey’s initial response was, “I like the red tires. Give us some more grip, we’ll 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 all their guys always being very quick no matter what.”
He added: “I think normally we hit our theoretical lap [combining all the best sectors into one lap] pretty well. I think that helps. After that, it’s a team effort. The car has always been very good. I trust my engineer a lot to give us a good car.
“I’ve got great teammates who are going to do well. After every session, even if you’re the quickest guy or the second quickest guy, there’s still a lot to look at and learn from.”