By JENNA FRYER
AP Auto Racing Writer
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing confirmed the worst kept secret in IndyCar on Monday when British driver Jack Harvey was officially added to its 2022 lineup.
Harvey had been assumed to be headed to Raha l since August, when he informed Meyer Shank Racing he was leaving at the end of his fifth season with the team. Michael Shank had built MSR around the 28-year-old driver and planned to expand to two cars next year with Harvey and Helio Castroneves.
Instead, Harvey declined a contract extension and upstart MSR two weeks ago named Simon Pagenaud as Harvey’s replacement for next year. MSR won its first IndyCar race this season, the Indianapolis 500 with Castroneves.
Harvey chose a move to Rahal, which also is expanding as it heads into its 31st season.
“I’ve been working towards this moment for my entire career,“ Harvey said. “This is an exciting next chapter and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead.”
Harvey will drive the new No. 45 Honda sponsored by Hy-Vee. The supermarket chain in under two seasons has fully committed to Rahal and IndyCar, and is a huge part of Rahal’s expansion from two cars to three full-season entries.
Harvey will team with Graham Rahal, as well as a driver not yet named in its third car. The team parted last week with two-time Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato after four seasons of Sato driving the No. 30 Honda.
“I’m eager to get to work with Graham and the entire team,” Harvey said. “We have common goals of competing for wins and championships, and I’m confident we’ll be contending from the drop of the green flag next year.”
Harvey won six races over two seasons in Indy Lights, where he was runner-up in the standings in both 2014 and 2015. Shank in 2017 debuted his IndyCar team over three races for Harvey.
MSR doubled to six races the next season, 10 races in 2019 and the full IndyCar schedule the last two years. Harvey finished 12th in the IndyCar standings this season. He has one podium finish in 49 starts and was a career-best ninth in the 2020 Indy 500.
He moves to another growing team in Rahal, which has been boosted by Hy-Vee’s commitment to the open-wheel series and next year will move into a new 115,000-square foot shop in Zionsville, Indiana.
Hy-Vee first joined Rahal as primary sponsor of Graham Rahal’s car for a 2020 race at Iowa Speedway and as primary sponsor for Spencer Pigot at that year’s Indy 500. The company boosted its funding to nine races this past season, then committed to the full 2022 season and signed as the title sponsor for IndyCar’s return to Iowa for a doubleheader following a one-year hiatus.
Iowa Speedway is located not far from Hy-Vee’s headquarters in Des Moines.
“Hy-Vee has massively committed to elevating IndyCar as a series and I’m honored to be representing their brand on track in the No. 45,” Harvey said.
Three different drivers piloted the No. 45 this past season in what was believed to be tryouts for the seat. Santino Ferrucci ran four races but said he’s no longer in the running for a ride with Rahal; Oliver Askew drove the final three events of the year and his future is unclear.
Harvey, who is headed into his third full IndyCar season, snagged the Hy-Vee sponsorship.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing is owned by three-time IndyCar Champion and former Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal, former CBS Late Show host David Letterman and Mi-Jack co-owner Mike Lanigan.
“I can’t tell you how pleased I am to welcome Jack to our team,“ Bobby Rahal said. “He and Graham will work well together and be a strong foundation for our driver lineup that will raise not only the level of each driver individually, but of the team as a result.
“I respect and appreciate his commitment and work ethic to racing on and off the track, which is so key, and I also respect the way he deals with people _ friendly and respectful.”