Carlin has confirmed today that Charlie Kimball will return to race with them in the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series, but only on a part-time schedule. The American will race in five of the seventeen races, including the 2019 Indianapolis 500 in May.
Kimball initially confirmed the news of his Carlin return via Twitter in January, but the team confirmed shortly thereafter that the American would not be competing in every race. It has taken until today for official details of Kimball’s part-time deal to be announced by the team.
The first of Charlie’s five races in 2019 will be at the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in March. He will have to wait over two months for his next outing, which will come at the Indianapolis 500 at the end of May.
Kimball’s third race will come at Texas Motor Speedway in June, ahead of another long wait for his penultimate race at Pocono Raceway in August. His last race of 2019 will come at the season-finale at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in September.
Following today’s announcement via social media, Kimball tweeted that he was “excited” to be back with Carlin and his sponsors Novo Nordisk US and Race with Insulin. However, many may be surprised to see Kimball not on a full-time deal based on his performances last season compared to team-mate Max Chilton, who has re-signed a full-time contract for 2019.
In what was a tough first season for the IndyCar debutants, Carlin managed to show flashes of great potential on numerous occasions. The team took six top ten finishes over the course of the seventeen-race season, with all six of those results coming from Kimball in the #23 car. Kimball even managed to put in a great drive amidst the chaos of the race on the streets of Toronto to take a fifth-place finish; a great result in the team’s first season.
Chilton, on the other hand, did not manage to secure a top ten finish during 2018. The British driver came painstakingly close with an eleventh place finish in Detroit, but ultimately he would trail his team-mate by sixty-four points by the conclusion of the championship.
It has yet to be confirmed as to whether Carlin will be running a third car in 2019. Kimball’s part-time deal makes this opportunity more likely, though the team may choose instead to hire another driver to compete in the races that Kimball isn’t; similar to the scenario employed last year by Dale Coyne Racing with Pietro Fittipaldi and Zachary Claman De Melo.
Carlin’s boss, Trevor Carlin, has long spoken of his desire to run a third car in the NTT IndyCar Series, but the potential third car and the identity of its driver have so far been unconfirmed as we near closer and closer to the season-opening race in March.
“I have a scenario where I’ve got a budget and a partial budget, and I want to run two full-time cars.” Carlin told RACER last year, “Ideally, having two cars fully committed is what we’re after, and after that stage, adding a third car would be the goal.”
So far, the only driver known to have tested with Carlin in an IndyCar recently is RC Enerson. The twenty-one-year-old Floridan driver has had one previous start in IndyCar with Dale Coyne Racing in 2016 at Mid-Ohio.
Enerson tested with the team at the Circuit of the Americas at the end of October. It is understood that Enerson was undertaking a rookie orientation test, but nothing else is known as the team chose to keep much of their running under wraps.
An announcement regarding the potential third entry is expected within the next few weeks in the lead up to the first race of the season. The opening round of the 2019 IndyCar Series, the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, will be held on Sunday, March 10.