Entering its final chapter, the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season has been laden with twisting, turning and remarkable storylines, from Alexander Rossi’s shock win at the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil to Will Power’s storming comeback into the championship frame.
One of the more surprising stories of 2016 has been the emergence of Dale Coyne Racing’s RC Enerson, who after one and a half seasons in Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires made the jump to the Verizon IndyCar Series for a three-race campaign late this season.
Posting the third-fastest race lap in his debut at the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio in July, a miscue with fuel strategy cost Enerson a chance at a top-10 finish. The Floridian recouped that result with a ninth-place finish two weeks ago in the INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen, where he again impressed with strong pace and extraordinary maturity.
CLICK HERE: GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma entry list; Weekend schedule
The 19-year-old has many eyes watching as he returns this weekend for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma. Enerson’s showing at Watkins Glen was the best result of the season for the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America/Trench Shoring Honda, which was pleasing to his race engineer, Kyle Brannan.
“I really lay it all on RC,” Brannan said. “He’s just done a fantastic job since hopping in the car. He’s got very clear feedback, he doesn’t overcomplicate things, which makes my job a whole lot easier.”
Enerson is among four drivers to drive the No. 19 car this season. Also seeing time in the car have been Italian Luca Filippi, 2014 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires champ Gabby Chaves and veteran Pippa Mann. Veteran engineer Brannan has been impressed with the youngster.
“I think just fundamentally he’s taken to the car so much more quickly than anyone expected,” said Brannan. “I guess there’s just some guys, they just fit the car, and RC’s probably one of them. He definitely has the smooth, flowing driving style. I think it’s really paid off at the type of courses (he’s run) so far.”
This weekend’s GoPro Grand Prix offers Enerson and Brannan their last opportunity to make another statement in 2016. Brannan is upbeat at the prospect of battling the sharp end of the field.
“I’m really expecting more of the same,” Brannan said of his teenage driver. “I’d be surprised if we got anything out of him that we haven’t so far. He’s been very methodical, very solid about how he’s gone about it. I don’t see that changing for Sonoma.”
Enerson and the rest of the 22-car Verizon IndyCar Series field take to Sonoma Raceway’s 2.385-mile permanent road course Friday for two practice sessions (2 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. ET) and Saturday (2 p.m.) for a third practice. All will stream live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com.
Verizon P1 Award knockout qualifying begins at 6 p.m. ET Saturday and airs on NBCSN. Coverage of the double-points season finale starts at 6:30 p.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.