King aiming for full-time IndyCar ride in 2019

Jordan King, who will be racing Ed Carpenter Racing’s #20 entry on road and street courses this year, hopes this season is a prelude to a fulltime ride in 2019.

King aiming for full-time IndyCar ride in 2019
Spencer Pigot, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Jordan King, MP Motorsport
Jordan King, MP Motorsport
Spencer Pigot, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Jordan King, MP Motorsport
Jordan King, MP Motorsport
Ed Carpenter, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Spencer Pigot, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Ed Carpenter, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Ed Carpenter, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Jordan King, MP Motorsport
Ed Carpenter, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

The Formula 2 race-winner will have his first test for ECR-Chevrolet at Sonoma tomorrow, but intends to test on an oval before the season is out, as he aims for a permanent seat in 2019.

“The goal for me this year is to learn as much as I can and prepare myself to the best of my ability to try and get a fulltime seat in IndyCar for 2019,” he told Motorsport.com. “On a day to day, race weekend to race weekend basis, getting good results and making progress is the priority.

“I’ve got to prove myself for the following year, because I aim to stay out here now. I’m in the process of getting myself a home in Indy.”

King said that he was committing to the US open-wheel scene because it “ticked a lot of boxes.”

He said: “I had lots of options in Europe but I started looking at IndyCar towards the end of 2016 and first met Ed back then. We never quite got the ball rolling then, but I came back to look at IndyCar midway through last year, and I restarted conversations.

“This is the best option for going forward in my career. It ticks a lot of boxes – right deal, right time – and I’m in the fortunate position where I can lean on Ed for his experience. Back in Europe, there wasn’t an opportunity that stood out quite like this one did, and it’s a very difficult market back there, being controlled by a certain few people.”

King was coy on when he plans to turn his first miles on an oval.

“I’m intending to do an oval test this year – that’s all I can say about it at the moment,” he said, “but it’s all been planned and it’s in place to try and make my stock more valuable.”

Asked if there was a possibility of racing a third Ed Carpenter car at Indy, he replied, “Well, if the opportunity came, I’m not going to say no, but it’s not in the plan.”

Off-track preparation

Ahead of Monday’s test around the 2.385-mile Sonoma Raceway, King said he had been going over onboard camera footage from the unfamiliar tracks and had spent time in a simulator.

“I’ve watched 80 percent of the tracks already, and done three or four tracks on the simulator,” he said. “I like to think that learning new circuits is not something I struggle with, I can get it done quite quickly. But that said, in IndyCar, there’s a lot of street circuits, and they are very specialist.

“That will be a whole new challenge and won’t be quite as easy as learning road courses. There’s bumps in brake zones, where you have to learn it for real and a simulator can’t really teach you that. So I’m spending as much time as I can trying to negate at least half these problems

“I’m spending a lot of time in the race shop with the engineers and the mechanics, so I’m fully up to speed with that aspect. I’m sure it can’t be too much different from other cars that I’ve driven and hopefully I can work it out pretty quickly.

“I think there’s a lot of comparisons to be made to Formula 2 power-wise, weight-wise, and in both championships you have different tire compounds. With regards to the tires themselves, the Pirelli is notorious for its challenges and the Firestone is more robust. But I’ve heard that throws up its own challenges, too, so there will be a learning curve to work out how to optimize their performance.”

Content with preseason track time

King did not sound perturbed that he was not getting his first taste of IndyCars until February.

“Obviously the big thing is to actually get in the car because that will answer more questions than asking engineers and watching videos,” he said. “But I’m still getting three or four days before the season starts, so I’d like to think I’ll have enough time to get up to speed with the car.”

King said he can see both sides of the debate regarding whether the new-for-2018 aerokit would work in the favor of rookies.

“It opens up the playing field a little more,” he said, “and the newer guys don’t have anything to relearn. But at the same time, the experienced guys still have fewer things to get used to and the more experience you have, it makes it easier to learn something. So you can argue both sides.

“But for the moment, I’ll take the stance that a new car will make it easier for a new driver.

“I mean, it will still be difficult, because the engineers are gonna say, ‘This is what we were doing last year but we’re not sure what this new car will do.’ But that aspect is the same for everybody, so hopefully it won’t have too much of an effect.”

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