Jordan King’s worries entering his first real-life laps at Road America came true on day one of the KOHLER Grand Prix weekend.
The unique 4.014-mile layout in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin poses a challenge to even the most seasoned Verizon IndyCar Series veterans. King, one of six rookies present at the historic venue in 2018, virtually visited Road America via a simulator twice before the weekend arrived and was able to form a general map of the circuit in his mind — along with a list of its major difficulties.
“It looks like it might be quite a tough circuit,” King said in the lead-up to the race weekend, which marks his seventh in IndyCar.
“There are a couple of blind corners that will be difficult and also some elevation changes. Those always add another element of difficulty into the mix as you have to judge your distance by things other than being able to see where you’re going.”
The former British Formula 3 Championship titlist and Formula 2 driver found that his predictions were spot on during 37 practice laps Friday at Road America, the sixth new racetrack he’s been tasked with learning since debuting at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in March.
“It is quite difficult to learn the circuit, relative to others that I have driven on,” King said after one hour and 45 minutes of practice across two sessions on Friday. “For example at St. Pete it just felt a little bit easier to pick up the smaller parts.”
With only 45 more minutes of practice standing between King’s first day at Road America and his first time qualifying at Road America, the Warwickshire, England native was glad to report that Friday had ultimately gone positively for him and the crew of the No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet.
“I felt quite good in this afternoon’s session and we have a better idea of what direction we want to go in,” King said at the end of Friday’s running. “(It’s) a little bit annoying we haven’t quite jumped on it straight away — still a bit of progress to be made.”
Just as he was wise enough to prepare himself for what to expect Friday by pinpointing Road America’s unique, challenging features with the aid of a simulator, King was sure to remain positive entering the middle day of the weekend knowing that slowing down may help him speed up.
“(I’m) looking forward to having a good night’s sleep,” he noted. “I always find that when you are able to chill out, think about it and sleep well it makes the second day much nicer. We all know where we need to go with the car and should be quicker tomorrow.”
King will aim to improve his average finishing position of 18.5 through six races this year when the green flag flies to begin his first KOHLER Grand Prix at 12:12 p.m. CDT Sunday. The grid will be set beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday while live television coverage of Sunday’s race on NBCSN will open at 12:30 p.m. EDT.