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.”