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King Taking Everything in Stride for Rookie Season

End results are usually the bottom-line reality, but Ed Carpenter Racing rookie Jordan King insisted on Friday that he’s run stronger than where he’s finished in three Verizon IndyCar Series races.

Then the 24-year-old British driver, whose No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka ECR Chevrolet was second on the speed chart in practice, went out and qualified fifth for Saturday’s INDYCAR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“The team and I have both been better,” said King, who drives Carpenter’s car on road and street courses. “We’ve been running at the front of races and then fallen down for reasons out of our control really. It’s been a little bit annoying. We know we should have had some better results.”

On a noteworthy day when two ECR cars qualified in the top nine for a road-course race for the first time in the team’s six-year history, Carpenter suggested the same better-than-he-finishes assessment could also be said of teammate Spencer Pigot, who qualified ninth in the No. 21 Preferred Freezer Service Chevrolet.

“The performance has been there,” Carpenter said, “it’s just a matter of finishing it off.”

King set a new track record in the opening round of qualifications for the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, where the former British Formula 3 champion, GP2 Series race winner and Formula 1 test driver started fourth but ended up 21st after a tire puncture put him into the wall.

At the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, King started 12th but finished 18th and ran into the back of Sebastien Bourdais near the end. Carpenter said the team had another issue that wasn’t his driver’s fault before the incident.

King started 19th but encountered an electronics issue and finished 14th in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.

“I’m trying not to have much expectations the whole year really, just take everything in stride,” King said. “But everywhere we’ve turned up, we’ve been quick, so I’m not surprised in that sense. What I do want to do is get the result by the end of the weekend. We’ve had a couple of things get in the way of that, but once it’s all ironed out, I think we’ll be winning races. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”

Pigot, promoted to a full-time ride this season after driving Carpenter’s car on road and street courses the two previous seasons, has finished 15th in three of four races and 14th in the other this season.

“I’m happy for the whole team really,” Carpenter said. “This is the most consistent event we’ve had where both cars have been in the top 10 in every session. Both guys are doing a good job, Jordan especially. We had a little issue with the car in the beginning of round one and he overcame that and stuck it in there.

“I think they both have (been better), but for sure, Jordan has been in really good positions and we’ve had things happen, some self-induced and some just bad luck.”

King said his ultimate goal is to land a full-time series ride as well as race in the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. But when asked if the INDYCAR Grand Prix is his most important race, because it’s run on the same track as the “500,” he reminded that his approach doesn’t change for any race.

“Yeah, it is a big one because it’s Indy, but I’m not treating it any differently,” King said. “I never quite get people that put one race up more on a pedestal.

“The ultimate goal is actually winning a championship, and that’s a season-long thing, it’s not just one race. Yes, you kind of desire to win the Indy 500 a little bit more because it is the ‘500,’ but for the championship your preparation is not going to be any different. You’re still trying just as hard as you are every other race.”

If he’s going to earn that full-time ride, he needs to show something on race day.

“That’s all that matters,” Carpenter said of the bottom line. 

A confident King doesn't need to be reminded.

“I feel healthy, fit and ready to go. We’ll see,” King said. “I’ll let you know how I feel when I cross the finish line on Saturday.”

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