SONOMA, Calif. – Englishman Jack Harvey maintained his dominance on the road courses by romping to a clear victory in Saturday’s Indy Lights Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway.
Harvey’s third win of the season aboard Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian’s No. 42 Racing Steps Foundation entry vaulted him to second place in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires point standings, just 12 points behind second-place finisher Gabby Chaves (Belardi Auto Racing) with one race remaining.
The scenario tomorrow for Chaves, who has led the title-chase for much of the 14-race season, is quite clear. Even if Harvey wins again – and claims the bonus points for leading most laps and posting the fastest race lap – Chaves must finish second to secure the championship and a scholarship package worth $750,000 to assist with graduation to the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2015.
Harvey, who won both road course races earlier this month at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, continued that form by posting the fastest lap in qualifying to ensure himself of pole position for today’s race. He duly led away from the start, whereupon Chaves, who qualified second, kept pace on the outside under acceleration through Turn One which enabled him the inside line entering the braking area for turn two. Harvey, though, was able to brake deep enough to keep Chaves in his mirrors.
Chaves, meanwhile, suddenly found himself running out of road, which allowed Harvey’s teammate, Brazilian Luiz Razia, to slip past into second place. While Harvey made good his escape at the front of the field, Chaves’ pressure on Razia paid off on lap two when he was able to slip through under braking at turn 11.
Chaves whittled the deficit to Harvey from two seconds to less than a second on Lap 8, taking advantage of a fresh set of Cooper tires to set fastest lap along the way, but that was as close as he got. Harvey gradually eased clear to a 6.5130-second margin of victory over Chaves, who finished well clear of Razia.
“It was a pretty good race for me. I did as much as I could do. I had the pole, won the race and had the most laps led so really the only thing I didn’t do was get fastest lap. We weren’t really surprised by that and we just have to go out there tomorrow and, hey, anything can happen,” said Harvey. “It was close going into turn two because we clearly both want to win. I was in a good position. We were close but there was no contact and there was room for both of us to go through. I came out in first place and after that I just pushed hard. I don’t know what happened to him at the end. He said maybe he had a problem with his throttle. We need to look at how we can be better tomorrow to try to make something happen.”
Juan Pablo Garcia equaled his best result of the season in fourth for SPM with Curb-Agajanian, having slipped ahead of teammate Juan Piedrahita at the start, while Andretti Autosport pair Matthew Brabham and Zach Veach were never happy with the balance of their cars and could manage no better than sixth and seventh.
Jack Harvey, Gabby Chaves, Luiz Razia, Juan Pablo Garcia, Juan Piedrahita, Matthew Brabham, Zach Veach, Scott Anderson, Zack Meyer, Ryan Phinny.