Jordan King puts on a show in Sonoma
Date: 19 / 09 / 2018
Jordan King brought his impressive debut Verizon IndyCar Series campaign to its conclusion on the weekend at Sonoma Raceway. Jordan bounced back from engine issues in qualifying to put on an overtaking exhibition in the 85-lap race, passing a dozen cars to travel from the back of the grid to finish in 13th place.
Starting the weekend in California on Friday, Jordan used the first session of the day to get back up to speed with the 2.385-mile Sonoma Raceway as he drove the track for the second time since early February. Beginning to build the speed up heading into the day’s second practice, Jordan set his best lap time of the day and finished the afternoon session in 12th place with a lap time of 1:18.6350.
Based on Saturday morning’s third practice session, which Jordan finished in 17th, Jordan was assigned to Group 2 for the first round of qualifying. Starting the session on the black tire compound, Jordan set three timed laps before diving into the pits for a set of quicker reds.
However, on his out lap, he radioed in that he felt there was a problem with the car and was forced to bring his No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet back into the pit lane and was not able to turn a lap at speed on the red tires. As a result of the diagnosed engine issue, which was repaired after qualifying, Jordan qualified in 25th place and would have to start the final race of the season from the final spot of the grid.
“It was quite tricky really. We seemed quite strong, but starting our run on reds we had a problem. We had to come into the pits so I didn’t get to set a lap time on reds. I think we were going to be close to the cutoff time. It’s annoying when you can be inside the Top 10, but you end up last!”
“Tomorrow, it’s going to be a long race. I think it will be quite physical, the circuit seems quite demanding. It’s going to change a lot as the race goes on. Running both Firestone compounds, the black and reds, will be a balancing act on how you set up the car and how you drive. There are going to be a lot of variables!”
Starting from the final place on the grid, Jordan was one of only three drivers to opt to start on the black Firestone Firehawks and was able to keep plenty of life in his tyres through an uneventful opening few laps.
Jordan’s race then truly got underway as he passed Max Chilton and hunted down the pack in front. Being on the black tyres, Jordan was able to fulfill his minimum run on the black tires and was able to short-stop on lap 12 to switch onto the faster red sticker tires for the remainder of the event. This strategy worked perfectly for Jordan who was able to gain nine places, moving himself up to 16th place after the first round of pit stops.
“The first couple of laps were uneventful really, I kind of wanted something to happen but nothing really did! It was really kind of follow-the-leader, which was a bit rubbish. I managed to get past (Max) Chilton, which then kind of started my race really. I was able to catch the group in front of me, but I was still down at the back of the field.”
“We were on blacks, everyone else was on reds. We short-stopped the first stint and managed to jump a load of people. We had a really good couple of stints on red to gain track position and made it up to midfield.”
Jordan made his second stop of the race on Lap 34, also for another set of red tires, and after his stop, he was up to the 14th position. The first and only full-course caution of the race came on Lap 43 and Jordan did not need to stop under the yellow and took the Lap 49 restart from 13th.
At a dramatic restart, Jordan dropped to 15th as he was forced to avoid cars making contact around him and fell further to 16th as Veach bumped him off course. However, Veach was forced to give back the position by race control due to avoidable contact and Jordan was soon back in the 15th spot.
“It was tricky at that restart, we almost crashed into about six people, there was so much going on! There’s a couple of war wounds on the car but it was good fun. It was one of those races where you had to dig deep into your box of magic tricks and work out how to drive fast but save fuel, save tires but overtake people, save fuel but not get overtaken.”
King brought the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet back into the pit lane for his final pit stop of the 2018 season on Lap 62. He still had a set of red tires remaining, which he was able to finish the race on. Even with saving fuel, he was able to make his way up back to 13th and held off a late-race charge from Veach to keep the position until the checkered flag.
The 12 positions he gained in the afternoon were the most of any driver in the field at Sonoma and summarised a season of fantastic performances without the results to reflect them.
“I enjoyed my last few hours of the season! Finishing 13th doesn’t look great but considering where we had to come from, the very back around a circuit that’s hard to overtake, we did a pretty good job!”
Jordan finishes his debut IndyCar Series in 22nd place in the Drivers’ Championship with 175 points, despite competing in just eleven of the seventeen round and finishing in the top-fifteen on six occasions.