For RC Enerson, the opportunity to debut in this week’s Honda Indy 200 with Dale Coyne Racing means the 19-year-old out of New Port Richey, Fla. will join a decent list of those who’ve started with Coyne and then gone on to bigger and better things in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
He’ll make his debut in the team’s trademark No. 19 Honda next week.
Enerson first hailed the Mazda Road to Indy, where he spent the last five seasons (Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda from 2012 to 2014, then Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires in 2015 and partial 2016), for helping prepare him to be the driver he is now.
“The Mazda Road to Indy takes a ton of credit for that,” Enerson told NBC Sports. “The whole ladder system is designed to help you get here. The experience is invaluable. It’s such a great program; it brought me all the way up. We’re to the end of it and they deserve a lot of credit with their preparations, with being at IndyCar events, so you’re going to these huge events in a feeder series. It prepares you really well.”
He then thanked the Coyne team for their immediate ease to work with as he prepares for his debut, alongside teammate Conor Daly in the No. 18 Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality Honda.
“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.”
So how does Enerson fit into the rookies-at-Dale Coyne history books?
Here’s a look at the most recent rookies who have made their series debut with Coyne, since the IndyCar/Champ Car merger at the start of 2008:
- 2015: Rocky Moran Jr.* (Long Beach), Rodolfo Gonzalez (Barber)
- 2014: Carlos Huertas (St. Petersburg)
- 2013: James Davison (Mid-Ohio), Stefan Wilson (Baltimore)
- 2011: James Jakes (St. Petersburg)
- 2008: Mario Moraes (Homestead)
*Daly also made his first IndyCar road or street course start with Coyne at Long Beach last year, deputizing for the injured Rocky Moran Jr., who was due to debut at the street race last year.
Other notables who have debuted for Coyne include NBCSN IndyCar analyst Paul Tracy (1991, Long Beach) and other racing veterans Ryan Dalziel (2005, Toronto), Darren Manning (2002, Rockingham) and Andre Lotterer (2002, Mexico City).
Townsend Bell, Tracy’s fellow NBCSN IndyCar analyst, also ran in a Coyne-crewed but Patrick Racing-entered No. 19 car at two European oval races in 2001, his first two IndyCar starts.