Perhaps one of the greatest surprises from last month’s opening race of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series was the pace of the rookie driving Ed Carpenter Racing‘s #20 Chevrolet, Jordan King.
The British driver – former British Formula 3 champion, GP2 Series race winner and Formula 1 test driver – caught the attention of many when he qualified a fantastic fourth on the grid for the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. King also set a new lap record at the street circuit in the process.
King continued to make strong progress at the start of the race, too. He managed to take the lead away from fellow rookie Robert Wickens on an early race restart, but the Canadian would work his way back by soon after. Sadly, the race wouldn’t end the way King and his team would’ve wanted, with a puncture on lap thirty-three pitching his Chevrolet into the wall and subsequently into the pits for repairs that would leave him three laps down on the field.
Nevertheless, King’s pace that weekend was impressive indeed, especially as it was King’s first time racing in America’s premier single-seater championship. The twenty-four-year-old from Warwick will compete in all of the road course and street circuit rounds of this year’s Verizon IndyCar Series, whilst his boss, Ed Carpenter, takes over the car for the remaining six oval races.
Heading into King’s second race weekend, the famous Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, The Checkered Flag was lucky enough to ask Jordan a few questions. Here, we reflect on his performance at St. Pete as well as other highlights from his career so far, whilst also looking ahead to this weekend’s race in California.
How do you feel about how your first race at St. Petersburg panned out as a whole?
On the whole, it was very positive and I was a little bit surprised as to how smoothly the weekend went. The final result was obviously a little bit disappointing, but everything within our control went well, which is encouraging going forward.
You’re now the lap record holder at the St. Petersburg street circuit. You also led the race at one point. Did you expect to have the pace that you had in your first race weekend?
I knew I would be quick, but I didn’t expect to be breaking lap records and challenging for the win quite so early on.
This weekend’s race takes place at the famous Long Beach street circuit. You’ve had the pleasure of racing at countless incredible race tracks in your career so far. Which of them presented the biggest challenge to get to grips with and why?
It’s hard to pinpoint down to one individual circuit. If I was to generalize down to types, street circuits are the most difficult due to the tiny margin of error and the lack of visual aids.
In the same vein, you have also driven some incredible cars over the years. Formula 3 to Formula 2, Formula 2 to Formula 1 and now IndyCar. Which was the most enjoyable to drive and what would like to cross off of your bucket list next?
Most enjoyable car to drive was probably Formula 3, it’s a really pure racing car and you can get a really nice balance out of the car. From a performance point of view, Formula 1 because it’s well fast and the fastest car I’ve ever driven.
Two individual things I’d like to do are win the Indianapolis 500 and the Le Mans 24 Hours. I always want to win championships but winning the single events would also be a great accomplishment.
You’re sharing a car with your boss this year. He is taking part in all the oval races in the No. 20 Chevrolet, but would you be interested in running on an oval at some point in the future?
Yes. I want to win the IndyCar championship and I can’t do that without running the full schedule. Oval racing will pose a new challenge and I enjoy a nice challenge.
How well are you fitting in at Ed Carpenter Racing? What has been the toughest part of the Verizon IndyCar Series to get used to?
It all happened really nicely and smoothly. I’ve fit in well and the transition was seamless. From the racing side, I haven’t had any problems. The biggest thing to get used to is the living in America part and listening to the trains downtown in Indianapolis blowing their horns at night.
Looking forward to Long Beach, do you believe that you can replicate the form you had at St. Pete? What are your targets this time around?
I don’t see any reason why we can’t replicate what we did in St. Pete. There will still need to be a lot of work done from my side and the team’s side to be able to do that, but I’m confident if we get everything right we can achieve it. I’d like to try and get into the Fast 6 again during qualifying so I have a good starting position for the race. I’m hoping to have a strong race where I’m challenging at the front and get a good result.
As for the rest of the season, you have ten races left to run. What kind of result would make you happy when you look back at the end of September? What would you like to have accomplished?
Showing to the paddock what I can do and proving to myself that I deserve to be here. It’s not like I have a goal that I want to win a race, it’s overall, an overview. I want to show I can be racing at the front on a long-term basis.
The third round of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, takes place this weekend on April 15. Be sure to check out TCF’s preview for the race weekend.