AUSTIN, Texas – After a one-year hiatus, Carlin is poised for a return to Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires.
The team is known globally for its successful programs in the junior open-wheel ranks and joined Indy Lights in 2015, grooming current NTT IndyCar Series drivers Max Chilton, Ed Jones and Matheus Leist. Carlin dropped its Indy Lights program last year to focus on its move into the NTT IndyCar Series to field Chilton and Charlie Kimball.
While Carlin will still have two NTT IndyCar Series entries in 2019, team principal Trevor Carlin has decided to resurrect the Indy Lights program and he’s looking at another two-car effort in the top rung of the Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires ladder. That in mind, Carlin tested former Andretti Autosport pilot Dalton Kellett and European junior formula standout Logan Sargeant (shown above) during INDYCAR Spring Training this week at Circuit of The Americas.
“It's looking good,” Carlin said. “Logan's here, he's thinking about doing some Indy Lights races later on in the year. His main focus is FIA F3. He would potentially like to do some Indy Lights races that don't clash, so this was a good opportunity for him to do an official test and see what he likes, see what he thinks about it.
“Logan would definitely not be doing the full championship. Dalton is looking quite keen and we're hoping to get the deal finalized very soon.”
With just eight race weekends (16 races) on the FIA Formula 3 calendar, tacking on some Indy Lights races would give Sargeant additional important race mileage. In their only season together in 2017, Carlin and Sargeant scored two wins, two poles and 10 podiums over 30 races, finishing third in the British Formula 4 Championship.
“Logan is super quick,” Carlin said of the 18-year-old Florida-born driver. “It's funny, (Tuesday) was actually the first time he's actually driven a racing car in the States. He's done a lot of karting, but he's done all his car racing in Europe.
“His focus is still Europe – his target is Formula 1 – so he's going to push on with his ambitions in Europe and maybe dovetail it with some Indy Lights stuff, but yeah, Logan is super fast. We expected a lot out of him.”
Over the three sessions, Sargeant ran a combined 71 laps, with a best circuit of 1 minute, 56.1172 seconds (105.721 mph) in Wednesday’s final session around the 3.41-mile circuit. It ranked eighth among the 10 drivers participating at the test.
“It’s definitely tricky, you've got to get your head around it,” Sargeant said of the COTA track. “The esses are all about rhythm, really just trying to find the right balance between each corner. You have to look ahead. It's not all about the corner you're in, but the one that you're coming up to.”
If learning a new circuit wasn’t challenging enough, Sargeant was also learning the nuances of the Dallara IL-15 chassis used in Indy Lights.
“(The Indy Lights car) has definitely got a lot of power,” said Sargeant, whose older brother Dalton has driven in a total of 22 NASCAR truck races since 2015. “Not much traction, but I think that's more to do with the turbo, just like a bit of a light switch with the throttle.
“It's definitely a bit of a handful through the high-speed (corners), lot of oversteer.”
Askew paces COTA test for Indy Lights
Oliver Askew had quite a morning at Circuit of The Americas. Hours after it was announced he would be driving for Andretti Autosport this season, he set the fastest lap of any Indy Lights driver at INDYCAR Spring Training. Piloting the No. 28 entry, Askew ran a best lap of 1 minute, 53.8017 seconds (107.872 mph).
“The goal was to announce this morning, that was important to do,” said the 22-year-old Askew, who won the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship before finishing third last year in the Indy Pro 2000 Championship presented by Cooper Tires. “Then, the goal was to go P1 in that session to cap it all off.
“Super happy and thankful to be here with Andretti Autosport and to have the opportunity to race with such a legendary team. You can really feel the passion within the crew members and at the shop. These guys and girls work really, really hard. So I'm happy to be here and really happy with this test overall.”
Julien Falchero, also testing for Andretti, was a narrow 0.0424 of a second behind Askew on the timesheet. Rinus VeeKay, the 2018 champion in Indy Pro 2000, was third for Juncos Racing.
All three levels of the Road to Indy will test March 2-4 on the Homestead-Miami Speedway road course before each series opens the 2019 season with a doubleheader race weekend March 8-10 at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.