When Harding Racing was formed by Indianapolis-based concrete and asphalt paving company owner Mike Harding in 2017, it was with the express intent of building a viable organization around Colombian-American driver Gabby Chaves, a graduate of INDYCAR’s vaunted Road to Indy ladder system.
Although Chaves had a full season of Verizon IndyCar Series action under his belt after a 2015 campaign with Bryan Herta Autosport, he was let go after that year, where he was 15th in the final standings. In 2016, Chaves did a partial season with Dale Coyne Racing; his best result came at the rescheduled Texas Motor Speedway race when he finished 14th.
Harding Racing, formed to race just three ovals in 2017, secured Chaves for its premier campaign and the first result, in the 2017 Indianapolis 500 was an inspiring ninth place. Chaves again surprised everyone except himself with a fifth-place result at Texas Motor Speedway and secured a 15th-place finish at Pocono.
Things haven’t gone too well for the near-start-up squad in 2018; they’ve got zero top-10 finishes after 11 races and obvious difficulty understanding the new universal aero kit decreed by the sanctioning body for the 2018 season. The Harding Racing team knew they needed to do something.
“At this point in the season, we are focusing all our attention on the 2019 season,” said Brian Barnhart, team president. Harding Racing has elected to hire Conor Daly to race the No. 88 for this weekend’s Honda Indy Toronto on the streets surrounding that city’s Exhibition Place. The 26-year-old is a veteran INDYCAR racer with 40 starts in five seasons; he has a single podium finish.
“If we can expand to a two-car team, all remaining races and testing will offer driver evaluation opportunities to determine who will become Gabby’s teammate in 2019,” Barnhart explained. “Gabby is still fully employed and still under contract with Harding for the remainder of this year and in 2019,” he concluded.
By Anne Proffit