Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has announced today that they will run British driver Jordan King in the 2019 Indianapolis 500. King, who raced in the road course and street circuit rounds of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series for Ed Carpenter Racing, is hoping to use next year’s Indy 500 as a springboard to earning further outings in the championship afterwards.
The 2019 Indy 500 will be the first time that King has entered the historic event. It will also be the first time that he has ever raced on an oval. Having shared the #20 ECR Chevrolet with his former team boss Ed Carpenter this year, King made it no secret that he desired to race on an oval some day.
In an interview with The Checkered Flag earlier this year, King stated: “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.”
Whilst King will not be competing in the full championship, Jordan commented after today’s announcement that he was “really happy and excited” to be making his Indy 500 debut, going on to state that he has “always dreamt” of taking part in what is one of the world’s greatest races.
“I’m really happy and excited to announce that I’ll be driving in the 2019 Indy 500 with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing,” said King today.
“This race is one that I have been working towards and a race I have always dreamt of racing in as it’s the jewel in the crown of IndyCar. I was at the race last year and I really enjoyed the whole weekend and knew straight away it was something that I had to be a part of so to be able to go there next year is definitely a huge moment in my career.”
Jordan was a somewhat surprising addition to the 2018 IndyCar field when it was announced that he would be racing in the road course and street circuit events in the #20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet. A former Formula 2 race winner and Formula 1 test driver, many were unsure as to how King would get on in the vastly different world of IndyCar.
King impressed almost immediately on his debut at the 2018 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. He set a new track record on the street circuit in qualifying and went on to secure fourth place on the grid. Sadly for King, an issue mid-race would relegate him to a poor finish, three laps down on the leaders.
Whilst continuing to show impressive flashes of pace throughout the season, King never managed to break into the top ten on the results tables of any of the eleven races he took part in during the year. His lacklustre results were thought to have left him in a precarious position in terms of losing his seat for 2019, with the sad news being confirmed last month when it was announced that he had been replaced by Ed Jones as a part of Ed Carpenter Racing’s new affiliation with Scuderia Corsa.
Following the news of his replacement, King commented in an interview with RACER that he may be forced to consider 2019 options in other championships away from IndyCar. However, today’s news of his Indy 500 seat with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing will see him remain in the paddock for at least one race next year.
King will be hoping to use his debut Indy 500 as a means of showcasing himself to teams that may be interested in signing him on a full-time basis in the future. King would go on to comment today that today’s news was “a huge relief” for him and that he wanted the race to help his “push towards a full-time drive.”
“We went from not being able to find a full-time drive for the season to securing a seat at one of the biggest races in the world which is a huge relief to be able to get sorted,” King continued. “A huge thanks to RLL for the opportunity and I hope I can repay their faith in me with a good result. The race will be my first-ever on a superspeedway so it should be an exciting experience every time I get behind the wheel.
“The aim for the 500 is to prove myself as an oval racer. I already competed in the road and street courses this year so now I’ll be looking to impress and expand my CV to push towards a full-time drive.”
King will join Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s full-time drivers, Graham Rahal and 2017 Indianapolis 500 race winner Takuma Sato. Jordan will certainly have a wealth of experience and knowledge to draw off of when he gets to Indianapolis in May.
Whilst making your oval racing debut at the Indy 500 can look to be a daunting prospect, King will take comfort in the experience of his team and his team-mates, as well as the sheer amount of testing that he will take part in in the lead-up to the event.
Bobby Rahal, the co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, commented today that he believed Jordan “has the potential to do well” in the race in May, also stating that he had been “impressed” with King’s pace in his outings earlier this year.
“Jordan certainly impressed me last year with his pace at a number of races,” Rahal said in today’s announcement.
“Of course those were all road and street courses but he quickly came to grips with the Dallara and it was apparent that he has the potential to do well. While this will be his first oval race, I think that given the amount of track time, he will get up to speed and come to grips with the challenges of oval racing just as quickly.
“Of course, it always helps to have two strong teammates and a strong team behind you to shorten the learning curve and we feel we provide that. We look forward to welcoming him to the team.”
The 2019 IndyCar Series will kick-off with the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, March 10. The 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500 will take place later in the season on Sunday, May 26.