All-star leadership team heads Verizon IndyCar Series' newest full-time entrant
JANUARY 12, 2018

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The newest full-time team in the Verizon IndyCar Series is full speed ahead preparing for the 2018 season.

Harding Racing has built a strong management operation that includes team owner Mike Harding, who owns Harding Paving in Indianapolis and president Brian Barnhart, who was a key member of the Indy Racing League in its early days and went on to become IndyCar Series president. Longtime racer Larry Curry is the team manager and two-time Indianapolis 500 winning driver Al Unser Jr. is the executive assistant.

The Chevrolet team ran a limited schedule last season with young driver Gabby Chaves. This season, Harding Racing will compete in all 17 races with the possibility of a second full-time entry.

Curry said last season Harding Racing intended to compete in the full season, and on Friday, the team made that official.

"It's been a long time coming,” said the 24-year-old Chaves. "We've been preparing nonstop as if we were going to compete full time all offseason, but now that it's official, it certainly feels fantastic, and now we're ready to get on track and see where all the work that we've done puts us, and we'll go from there.

"I think both our goals aligned perfectly with each other, and we were able to get working and get started on that with a few races last year.”

Chaves is the 2014 Indy Lights Series champion. In 2015, he competed in the full season of IndyCar for Bryan Herta Autosport. He drove seven of 16 races for Dale Coyne Racing in 2016 and competed in three races last year for Harding Racing as a startup operation.

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He was impressive in two of those races with a ninth-place in the 101st Indianapolis 500 and a fifth-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway two weeks later.

The addition of Barnhart as team president was big news; previously, he was race director for the IndyCar Series.

"I'm excited to be back on the team side and really excited to be working with Gabby and the promise that he shows and the future of this race team,” Barnhart said. "I think Larry has done a fantastic job putting together a solid foundation of guys. We've added several guys coming on board over the winter with our move to a full-time team.”

The team has increased its staff and just last week moved into the old Ed Carpenter Racing shop on Main Street in Speedway, Indiana -- just a few blocks from Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"We've got a 45,000-square-foot facility here that we took control of last week, and the guys are moving the equipment in and preparing cars, and it's full steam ahead as we move forward with the season rapidly approaching,” Barnhart said.

Because of that move, Harding did not test this past week when several teams were the first to hit the track to test the universal aero kit. Barnhart is confident the team will be able to catch up to the others once Harding begins its test schedule.

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"With that new aero kit coming on board, it kind of resets the competition level for everybody, and we all kind of find ourselves in the same boat moving into 2018 from that aspect,” Barnhart said.

Barnhart said on Friday the team’s goal is to add a second full-time entry this season and is at work lining up sponsorship for that to happen.

"We're not going to add a car or simply do a car for the sake of doing one unless it adds value,” Barnhart said. "We think we've got some options down the road that we can perhaps expand into, but they don't have it developed at this point in time.

"We still have an eye towards potentially a second car at Indianapolis, maybe a couple other races, and if the right situation would present itself, we most definitely would love to expand to a two-car effort full-time.”
source : autoweek.com

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