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Carlin: IndyCar confirmation “still a long way off”

Team owner Trevor Carlin says the prospect of his team entering the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2017 is still distant, despite the rumors of a merger with KV Racing.

Carlin logo
Ed Jones, Carlin
Carlin team boss Trevor Carlin
Indy Lights champion Ed Jones with Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske Chevrolet, Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet at Pier 39
Start: Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske Chevrolet leads
James Sulli Sullivan, Sébastien Bourdais, Kevin Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser
Max Chilton, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Jimmy Vasser

Although he admitted the prospect of expanding to include an IndyCar team was enticing, Carlin reiterated what he told Motorsport.com in early August – that he wouldn’t be rushing the idea through if everything wasn’t aligned.

“We’re still a long way off that happening,” Carlin said on Thursday. “There’s nothing we’d love more than to move up, but we’ve got to be realistic.

“Like I’ve always said, when we start in IndyCar, it will be with the aim to do it a long time. We don’t want to arrive, do it for six months and then disappear again. And we’re nowhere near having the security in place to commit properly.”

Although existing IndyCar team KV Racing is set to move from Indianapolis down to Florida during the off-season, where Carlin Racing has based its US arm, Carlin wasn’t prepared to allow more than the fact that he had met KV’s owners Kevin Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser.

“Yeah, I’ve spoken to Kevin and Jimmy over the course of the season,” he said, “and I did at the end of last year, too. Good guys. But our team moving up to IndyCar is currently far enough away from being a reality that it really hasn’t gone beyond just chatting. I’m not one to speculate when there are so many practicalities to get in place.”

In similar vein, Carlin said that the choice between Chevrolet and Honda as his team’s engine supplier was “wide open. A lot of water has to pass under the bridge before that’s a choice we have to make. We’ve had discussions with both.”  

Graduation doesn’t hinge on KV Racing, nor Max Chilton

Carlin stressed that the decision to move up to IndyCar would depend on neither a merger with KV Racing, nor buying KV's assets. He also said that although being able to confirm a presence in IndyCar next year was distant, he was still pushing hard to make it happen.

“Come what may, we want to be on the grid at St. Pete,” said Carlin. “We’ll keep pushing as hard as we can for as long as we can, absolutely, until it’s not doable. We’re still in September, just about, and there’s another five months before the next race so anything’s possible.

“But you know, we’re quite philosophical about it. If we can’t do it properly for 2017, then we’ll keep pushing hard for ’18. To be honest, with that being when standard bodykits are introduced, it would actually be a lot more straightforward because everyone’s going to be learning the new kit.”

Asked if Max Chilton was part of his IndyCar plans, given his father is co-owner of the company that owns the team, and given that Carlin ran the ex-F1 driver in Indy Lights last year, Carlin said: “Max will do his own thing, I’m sure, as he always has.”

Carlin confirmed that even if his team did move up to IndyCar, the Indy Lights squad – which won this year’s championship with Ed Jones in only its second year in the series – would remain in place. This is in addition to expanding downward to USF2000 next year and an expected Pro Mazda team in 2018.

“Our sole focus in America these last two seasons has been Indy Lights,” said Carlin, “and the Lights program is 100 percent guaranteed to continue.”

 

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