INDYCAR Writers’ Roundtable, Vol. 17: Next First-Time Winner?

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Today’s question: Now that Pato O’Ward has broken through with his first career NTT INDYCAR SERIES victory, who is next to join the club, and when?

Curt Cavin: Well, since I thought the field was too stacked with veterans for a first-timer to break through this season, I certainly didn’t think two would, and I’m not sure how to pick a third! But given where we stand and what we’ve seen from the under-25 crowd – wins by Palou, Colton Herta and O’Ward – I’ll go with an older guy (relatively older, that is). The pick is Jack Harvey, who figures to get his first win sooner rather than later, and the ideal place will be Mid-Ohio, which is just a short drive from the shop Jim Meyer and Michael Shank are building for this growing organization.

Zach Horrall: I think the next first-time winner in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES has to be Rinus VeeKay, and I think it could come as soon as the GMR Grand Prix on the IMS road course Saturday, May 15. VeeKay, 20, has started the season as one of the most consistent drivers in the paddock with three top-10 finishes in four starts. And his record on the IMS road course is solid. He has two top-five finishes in three starts, including a fifth in last year’s GMR Grand Prix and a third in one of the INDYCAR Harvest GP races last fall. He also scored a pole at that race, where he scored the first and only podium finish of his career. I’ll add this Ed Carpenter Racing driver to my INDYCAR Fantasy Challenge Driven by Firestone team!

Paul Kelly: Zach makes a great point about Rinus VeeKay, but us seasoned (OK, call us old!) guys will stick together: I agree with Curt on Jack Harvey. At the quarter pole of the season, he gets my vote for Most Improved Driver, and Meyer Shank Racing gets the same nod for Most Improved Team. It’s no longer a pleasant surprise to see Harvey and Meyer Shank running in the top 10 at an NTT INDYCAR SERIES race – it’s almost expected. Meyer Shank has a technical alliance with Andretti Autosport, and a quick glance at the series standings shows Harvey ahead of three of the four drivers in the Andretti stable, topped only by dominant St. Petersburg race winner Colton Herta. Harvey finished a career-best third in the GMR Grand Prix in 2019 on the IMS road course, and I won’t be the slightest bit surprised if he’s standing atop the box Saturday afternoon, May 14, basking in the glory of his first win.

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