Carpenter says team had a ‘smooth day’ with future IndyCar rookie Jack Aitken
Jack Aitken was the last contender to hit the track to likely complete Ed Carpenter Racing’s driver evaluation process to complete his # 20 (plus Indianapolis 500) open road and street program for the 2022 IndyCar season. 26 year old Anglo-Korean driver gave the driver / owner plenty to analyze in the coming weeks.
The four-time Formula 2 winner, who made his Formula 1 debut a year ago at the Sakhir Grand Prix with Williams F1, finished Monday with the fourth fastest lap in a four-way private practice session drivers on the Sebring International Raceway. Young European stars Nyck de Vries (Meyer Shank Racing), Callum Ilott (Juncos Hollinger Racing) and Stoffel Vandoorne (Arrow McLaren SP) were also on the test. But on a tricky track where lap times can vary dramatically from day to day, and in a first test no less, Carpenter said he was more concerned with Monday’s session by a point subjective view.
The test, the second (and final) ECR driver review day of this offseason, puts Aitken firmly in contention for what would be the last guaranteed seat on the 2022 IndyCar grid yet to be won. Carpenter wouldn’t say how many pilots he’s still envisioning or if that group still includes titular Conor Daly or series veteran Ryan Hunter-Reay, who tested with the team in October at Barber. But the 40-year-old driver / owner has confirmed Monday’s test is intended to help make a decision on his roster in 2022 and not with his eyes further down the road.
“I think it went pretty well. You never really know what you’re going to get when a guy gets behind the wheel of an Indy car for the first time, but it was a good day,” Carpenter told IndyStar. âAnd I think he was having fun. He’s definitely a professional, experienced guy who knows what he’s doing, and he’s pretty honest with his comments.
“He was someone we were really interested in testing and finding out as we go through this decision-making process with what we’re going to do with this car.”
Although the test took place in the past two weeks, Carpenter said Aitken had been on his radar for three years, since the then F2 pilot traveled to Indianapolis with his father in late 2018 to network for future racing opportunities. âI had been following what he was doing, but he was not totally on my radar,â Carpenter said. “And then one of his representatives contacted after our Air Force news became public.”
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In mid-November, Carpenter announced that the team had learned at the end of the current silly season that the US Air Force, the main sponsor of the No. 20 car delivered by Daly when he joined the team. before the 2020 campaign, would not come back for 2022. While Carpenter and Daly had both worked behind the scenes to try and deal with the unexpected in case they received this bad news in the middle of the offseason, neither of them had a firm Plan B in place at the time. of his fall.
Last week Daly told IndyStar he still believes he is on the hunt for the seat, if he is able to find the proper funding, although nothing has materialized yet. He’s also planning a NASCAR Truck Series race all season while still aiming for the Indy 500 in May. Without ruling it out, Carpenter said the likelihood that ECR could field a fourth car for the 500 for Daly “isn’t something we’ve talked about. I wouldn’t say it’s impossible or possible at this point. ., but we have not yet equipped ourselves to plan to run four cars (at the 500). “
âIt’s still a very fluid situation,â Carpenter continued. âWe haven’t made a deal yet with someone we’re talking to, and we’re still discussing what is best for us as a team and as a company. Hopefully we can move on to the next phase sooner rather than later. that later, but at the same time, I want to make sure we’re making the best choice all around. “
Carpenter said he still aims to complete his squad roster in 2022 by Christmas.
“We will definitely not be doing more testing this calendar year,” he said. “I expect our next test to be the first team test for our assignment next year.”
Email IndyStar Motorsport reporter Nathan Brown at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @By_NathanBrown.
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: IndyCar: Ed Carpenter satisfied with Jack Aitken’s test