AUSTIN, Texas – Patience isn’t a virtue carried by all, let alone a racing driver.
RC Enerson has been waiting for another opportunity to start on the grid of an NTT IndyCar Series race since the checkered flag flew on the season finale at Sonoma Raceway on Sept. 18, 2016.
That’s 877 days.
Just 19 years of age at the time, he burst onto the scene with impressive pace over his brief three-race stint with Dale Coyne Racing, even collecting an impressive ninth-place finish at Watkins Glen International.
Now 21, Enerson has persisted to get back into an Indy car this offseason with Carlin. He tested with the second-year NTT IndyCar Series team Friday at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and is in the No. 23 Chevrolet for this week’s INDYCAR Spring Training at Circuit of The Americas.
While nothing is set this season as Carlin looks to fill the seat for races not committed to Charlie Kimball, Enerson is taking advantage of the test time to become acclimated to the universal aero kit that went into use by all teams in 2018.
“I think (the universal aero kit) feels a bit more similar to how the (Indy) Lights car was actually, with a little bit less downforce, a little bit more moving around,” said Enerson, who drove in 24 races, winning one and capturing six pole positions, in 2015-16 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires competition.
“The (competitive aero kit) that I remember back from 2016 was when the car was just planted everywhere. You could just add steering and the thing was never going to move anywhere. This one, the car dances around a lot more. It's a lot more working with the car, hustling it around (and) then technique, so to speak.”
Enerson certainly showed his hustle in Tuesday’s opening session of Spring Training, logging the fourth-best lap of 1 minute, 49.5431 seconds (112.065 mph) around the challenging 3.41-mile permanent road course. It was the Floridian’s second time driving an Indy car at COTA, having tested here in October.
“I'd have to say the high-commitment esses, they're pretty insane,” Enerson said of the trickiest part of the circuit. “You turn it in flat to those (in) fifth, sixth gear and having to just do a slow decel(eration) through there, trying to hold your neck up, trying to keep the wheel turned with how high grip the track is, it is pretty difficult. But it's a fast and flowing in track with an incredible variety of corners. Very open, very wide. I think the racing there is going to be insane.
“As far as just driving the track, it's mixed between technique with low speed and then extremely high-speed commitment.”
Enerson appreciates the opportunity with Carlin, a team he competed against in his Indy Lights days and one he holds in high regard.
“They were pretty much the toughest (Indy Lights) competition besides when Juncos (Racing) was winning the championship,” Enerson said.
“(Carlin) swept the first three races in their first season with Lights and pretty much dominated. Now they come here (to the NTT IndyCar Series) and their cars are amazingly prepared. I think last year they had zero mechanical (failures), so they're a very high-ranking team.”
Enerson knows he is walking a tightrope when it comes to showcasing his talents while also providing exactly what the team needs to help the long-term initiative.
"I am there to show what I can do, but I'm also there to help them as much as I can with setups on the car and help progress their program, so I'm there to do both things,” he said. “Trying to dance around that line is very fine, but I think we've done a pretty good job of not stepping over it so far. So it's been pretty good.”
INDYCAR Spring Training continued with a three-hour session Tuesday afternoon. Wednesday test sessions run from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2-6 p.m. ET.
The 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season opens with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, March 10 (1 p.m. ET, NBCSN and Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network).