Harding Racing officially announced today that the team will be full-time in the Verizon IndyCar Series this season, with driver Gabby Chaves. While that has been the expectation for quite some time, things are never never done until their officially announced. The team had great results running in three events last season, including a ninth place finish in the Indianapolis 500, and a top-five result at Texas.
The team will likely be a single-car operation for the majority of the season, aside from the Indy 500 and maybe a couple of other events. The team said their ultimate goal is to expand to two full-time entries, but that likely will not happen this year. Regardless, having another team competing for the full season, with a talented driver behind the wheel, is a great reflection on the future of the series. The full release from today is below.
[Harding Racing Press Release]
Harding Racing is announcing its full season entry in the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series. This will be the team’s first full-time campaign after a three-race stint in 2017. Gabby Chaves will return to Harding Racing to pilot the #88 Chevrolet after an impressive ninth place in the team’s IndyCar debut at the 2017 Indianapolis 500. Chaves and Harding continued to surpass expectations at Texas Motor Speedway and Pocono Raceway where they finished fifth and 15th.
“After the success we had in our three races of 2017, the next logical step was to take the team to a full season.” said, Mike Harding, team owner. “During the off-season we have continued to build Harding Racing by adding key people to key positions to become a strong contender in the Verizon IndyCar Series.”
Brian Barnhart, former IndyCar head of race control and vice president of competition, is the new Harding Racing team president. He is joined by two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. as team executive consultant and Larry Curry as team manager of a hand-picked crew. The team will continue its success under the Chevrolet banner with the Chevy V6 2.2 liter IndyCar engine.
“We are building on the success from 2017 and will take it to the next level with enhanced excitement in the upcoming season.” said Brian Barnhart. “Our sole focus is on making Gabby Chaves and Harding Racing the most competitive team possible in our first full season. I believe we will be a strong contender team in the talent-fueled Verizon IndyCar Series. The credit goes to Mike Harding, Tyler Smith, Larry Curry and the crew for a job well done this past year and I can’t wait to see what we will accomplish in 2018.”
“We’re a quiet powerhouse. This offseason we worked diligently to make sure that Harding Racing will be strong in 2018.” said Al Unser Jr. “The team had a fantastic start in 2017, and we are completely focused and prepared for this upcoming season. We have Brian Barnhart as Harding Racing team president and Gabby Chaves is back. I know the team is motivated, passionate and hungry for success this year.”
Gabby Chaves will return to a full-time IndyCar schedule for the second time since his 2015 rookie year. The 24-year old’s resume consists of 2014 Indy Lights Champion, 2015 IndyCar Rookie of the Year, 2015 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year, 26 IndyCar starts, three Top-10 finishes, one Top-5 finish and a ninth-place finish at the 2017 Indianapolis 500.
“I really can’t begin to express how happy and excited I am to get back on track full-time with Harding Racing.” said Gabby Chaves. “We built a really strong team in a very short amount of time in 2017. I’m looking forward to building on that and will be excited to see what our new team members will be able to do to take us to the next level. Most of all, I’d like to thank Mike Harding for believing in my potential and for giving me this opportunity. I can’t wait to see what we can do and believe we can have a lot of success together.”