RC Enerson set for Mid-Ohio debut for Coyne after great test

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

It’s not often you hear just pure joy on one end of a phone conversation in racing, but that was entirely the case this evening upon speaking to the Verizon IndyCar Series’ newest driver, RC Enerson.

The 19-year-old out of New Port Richey, Fla. will make his debut in next week’s Honda Indy 200 – fittingly – in Dale Coyne Racing’s No. 19 Honda, and is possible to run at Watkins Glen and Sonoma as well.

Enerson has carried Lucas Oil support in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires ranks and the family’s new Lucas Oil School of Racing has quickly risen in the industry this year, so although we’ll wait to see how the car looks next week, it would not be a surprise to see either or both bits of signage on the car.

Enerson paused his Indy Lights campaign after the Freedom 100 due to persistent electrical issues, which limited the likely preseason title contender to just one podium finish in the first eight races of the year.

Asked how his first IndyCar test went, after completing an estimated 118 laps of the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Enerson simply stated, “It. Was. Awesome!!!”

There was obviously more to come from the driver who’s likely going to surprise some people next week in his IndyCar debut.

“It went way better than I expected,” Enerson said. “There was a huge amount I learned today. Driving a car, is driving a car, and I got up to speed straightaway.

“But it goes by so fast. You do two stints right there. Then getting used to the things you’re not used to, like pit stops and fuel saving. So we spent a fair amount of time on pit stops, and hitting the marks right. You’re doing extra things like pit entry, exit, in laps and out laps. You learn a ton.”

Enerson’s track experience at Mid-Ohio will undoubtedly pay dividends. He’s won there in both Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires competition – the Indy Lights race serving as his first win in that series – and knows the track rather well.

“In USF2000, you’re running maybe 1:24 or 1:25 laps there. Then, Lights is 1:12. That’s a 13-second jump!” Enerson said. “Now in IndyCar we’re running another five or six seconds quicker.

“I had the basic line down. I know the driving style. What I didn’t know was the ridiculous amount of grip we’d get from the Firestones!”

Enerson also has quickly hailed the Dale Coyne Racing team. He made his seat fit in the team’s Illinois headquarters earlier this week before heading to Mid-Ohio.

“The team is awesome. I love this team,” he said.

“The vibe around the whole team is just amazing. There’s not a lot of pressure on me. They basically came in and said, ‘You’re not expected to set the world on fire.’

“But today we made great use of our time. It was great to not only test, but be able to make changes to the car and make setup tweaks.

“We learned a lot of valuable information that will help us for our debut.”

Sergio Perez wins rain-delayed race in Singapore over Leclerc; Verstappen seventh

Sergio Perez Singapore
Clive Rose/Getty Images,

SINGAPORE — Max Verstappen’s Formula One title celebrations were put on hold after the Red Bull driver placed seventh at a chaotic Singapore Grand Prix, won by his teammate Sergio Perez on Sunday.

Perez’s second win of the season saw him finish 7.6 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, with Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. in third place.

Perez was investigated for a potential safety car infringement but still kept the win after a 5-second time penalty for dropping too far back after being warned.

Verstappen had won the past five races but needed to win here and finish 22 points ahead of Leclerc to be crowned champion for a second straight season. That could happen next weekend at the Japanese GP.

Verstappen made a mistake after the second safety car restart, following AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda’s crash on Lap 36. When Verstappen tried to overtake Lando Norris’ McLaren, he locked his tires and needed to pit again.

Leclerc started from pole position with Verstappen going from eighth after a team blunder in qualifying.

The race start was delayed by more than an hour to clear water off the Marina Bay Circuit track following heavy rainfall. Drivers had to finish the 61-lap race within a two-hour window; 59 laps were completed.

Tricky conditions saw the virtual safety car deployed three times and DRS was allowed with about 30 minutes remaining.

Perez made a good start and jumped past Leclerc while Verstappen dropped several places. The first safety car was on Lap 8 when Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo was cut off by Nicholas Latifi’s Williams.

Perez got away cleanly at the restart, while Verstappen climbed into seventh behind Fernando Alonso – whose 350th F1 race ended disappointingly when his engine failed on Lap 21, bringing out the first VSC.

With the track still damp, drivers decided against changing to quicker tires – apart from Mercedes’ George Russell, who struggled for grip.

Hamilton made a rare mistake on Lap 33 and thudded into the crash barrier. Soon after, the leading drivers changed tires in a flurry of stops. They did so just before the safety car was deployed again following Tsunoda’s error.

Verstappen overtook Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin right at the end for seventh place.