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Verizon INDYCAR Series

Harding Open To Part-Time Expansion

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Mike Harding may be new to the Verizon IndyCar Series paddock, but he intends to make his presence felt in 2018.

Having confirmed a full season effort for former IndyCar Rookie of the Year Gabby Chaves, the new team boss hopes to enter an additional car alongside the No. 88 Chevrolet for a select number of races this season, including the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500.

Although added funding would be required to double its attack, Harding Racing team president Brian Barnhart believes the extra feedback between two entries will greatly raise the competitive level for the organization. Despite having posted two top-ten finishes in three appearances in 2017, the squad has yet to turn a wheel on a road or street circuit.

“We’re not going to add a car or simply do a car for the sake of doing one unless it adds value.” explained Barnhart. “With the short sessions, with the limited testing, clearly multi-car teams have got advantages, but we’re not going to throw one out there unless it can be advantageous to Gabby and our primary effort in the first car.”

Chaves, who is entering his fourth season of participation in North America’s premier open-wheel division, has not started an IndyCar on a road course since 2016, when he placed 19th in the series’ return to the four-mile, Road America layout in Wisconsin. The Colombian’s best performance in non-oval track action came a year previous in Detroit, where he finished ninth.

While Harding and Barnhart are hopeful of being able to go wheel-to-wheel with the best that the IndyCar Series currently has to offer, the Indianapolis-based runners’ number one target is to at least get a leg-up on 2018 circuit newcomers Carlin Racing and Juncos Racing. A part-time second entry alongside Chaves, would put the squad on similar terms with the former Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champions, who are fielding full season efforts for Max Chilton and Charlie Kimball. Juncos meanwhile, are only committed to a single car at eight of the 17 rounds, with Kyle Kaiser and Rene Binder each planning to participate four times.

Although no drivers have been pointed to a possible second ride at Harding, it could provide a window of hope for a handful of Indy 500-only pilots. Among those reportedly looking for an opportunity include 2015 race winner Juan Pablo Montoya, 2005 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year Danica Patrick, and former A.J. Foyt Racing driver Conor Daly.

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Matt Embury

An auto racing writer for over five years, Matt Embury's interest in auto racing was influenced from his father's side of the family. His first recollection of live racing attendance was in the early 1990s watching winged sprint car action at Butler Motor Speedway in Michigan with his uncle and dad.

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