King says ECR is “an environment where I can do my own thing”

IndyCar rookie Jordan King says honesty and trust between himself and Ed Carpenter Racing engineers have been key factors in his strong performances in the season-opener and in testing.

King says ECR is “an environment where I can do my own thing”
Jordan King, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Jordan King, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Jordan King, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Jordan King, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, pit stop
Jordan King, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Jordan King, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Jordan King, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Jordan King, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Ed Carpenter, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Ed Carpenter, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Jordan King, Spencer Pigot, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Jordan King, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

Not only did the 2013 British Formula 3 champion surprise with fourth on the grid at IndyCar’s first round in St. Petersburg, he has also shone in testing, finishing third fastest in this week’s test on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

Asked if he’d surprised himself with his pace, King, who this year shares the #20 ECR-Chevrolet with team owner and oval specialist Ed Carpenter, told Motorsport.com: “It’s not a surprise as such. I’ve always believed I am good enough and at Ed’s team I’m in an environment where I can do my own thing and prove that, because the team trusts me.

“It’s easy for a team to dominate a rookie’s perception, but they’ve actually been very open, and given me an environment where I can do my own thing.

“But we’re only one race and three tests in [Sonoma, Barber, IMS road course]. The basics are there. But there’s still another 10 circuits for me to learn.”

King said that racing in other spec series has prepared him for being unable to change a lot to the car, but added that he probably wouldn’t have taken a nuts-’n’-bolts approach to tailoring the car to his tastes anyway

“The development side of thing is limited so it’s similar to what I’ve run before,” he said, “but the team have a good understanding of what I’m trying to get out of the car, and I’ve not tried to change their philosophy. I’m getting in the car to drive what they give me, rather than change it drastically.

“At the moment, we’re all just being very honest with each other. You’ve seen how relationships between drivers and teams can break down, but here I think we’re working well – I can ask questions, they answer, and vice-versa.

“I’m not coming in after a session and trying to get the car to a certain place. I’m coming in, telling them what I feel the car’s doing, and they go make changes accordingly. I think that’s the sensible approach to have for my first year because it’s a new car for them and a new car for me. That gives them the freedom to try things.”

King will hand the #20 ECR-Chevy back to Carpenter for the April 6-7 second round, held on the ISM Raceway in Phoenix, before returning to the cockpit for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach the following weekend. So far he said he’s been happy with the tracks he’s encountered in the U.S.

“Indy roadcourse is a bit more what I’m used to [compared with St. Petersburg],” he commented, “but St. Pete was fine too. In the past, I’ve driven on some quite dire circuits and good circuits in the past, so I don’t think from the track point of view anything can throw a spanner in the works and surprise me here.

“The Barber test was annoying because we only got 20 laps in before they halted it, just as I was getting a bit of an understanding. At least I know which way it goes now; it’s quite tight and twisty for our cars but it’s good fun to drive.

“But I quite wanted to run in the rain, because I haven’t driven this car in the wet yet. I think there’s a worry over the amount of spare parts if any of us has an ‘off’, though.”

King last month told Motorsport.com of his intentions to remain in IndyCar for 2019, hopefully to go full-time, and to this end he made his oval test debut at Phoenix the day after Spring Training.

He said of the experience, “It was completely different from anything I’d done before and it would take a couple of days or more to be fully race ready.

“More time in the car will help. It was really interesting and it’s a challenge I want to get ready for. But for now, I’m fully focused on the job for 2018, which is road and street courses. Like I say, we have the basics but there’s still a lot to learn.”

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