Charlie Kimball says his fans are getting closer to knowing where he’ll drive in 2018.
The seven-year Verizon IndyCar Series veteran, who entered the series in 2011 with Chip Ganassi Racing and has one victory to his credit, has long been tipped to join his friend and fellow ex-Ganassi driver Max Chilton at the incoming Carlin Racing team.
Team owner Trevor Carlin has been tight-lipped about the Florida-based program’s plans, and in Kimball, he definitely has an ally in running silent.
“Things are coming along well, and I have a lot of confidence in the plans that are coming together right now,” the Californian told RACER. “There is nothing signed, sealed, or delivered; it’s not there yet. I’d like things to move faster than they are, but I’m a racecar driver, so I always want things to move faster. We’re hoping to be in a position to announce something soon, but ‘imminent’ would be overstating things.”
As RACER reported in early October, Carlin has purchased brand-new Dallara DW12s for its upcoming IndyCar campaign, and it’s believed the only remaining hurdle is securing an engine supply for both of its drivers.
A quick accounting of the 2018 full-time grid points to where Carlin would likely fall in its quest to sign a pair of leases. Chevy has eight entries at present (two for A.J. Foyt, two for Ed Carpenter Racing, one for Harding Racing and three for Team Penske) and 12 are lined up for Honda (four for Andretti Autosport, two for Chip Ganassi Racing, two for Dale Coyne Racing, two for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and two for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports), which would suggest the Bowtie will power Carlin’s cars.
Although Honda Performance Development is known to have met with Carlin regarding engine leases, the brand has been rather forthright in wanting to keep its number right around the 12 it currently has. It makes the possibility of supporting one car possible, but with two DW12s to cover, pushing HPD out to 14 leases is said to be well outside its comfort zone. This supply conundrum is the most likely reason for the lack of confirmation for Chilton, Kimball and Carlin’s overall plans next season.
In the meantime, and barring an unexpected rerouting to Dale Coyne Racing’s newly vacant seat next to Sebastien Bourdais, Kimball says he’s enjoyed the process of planning his second IndyCar act with sponsor Novo Nordisk after spending so many years under the CGR banner.
“It’s pretty set in stone it will be a different team than the last seven years, so it will be new to me, no matter what,” he added. “When I came into IndyCar with Chip, it was about learning the ropes and doing what I needed to do to stay there.
“Now, I’ve got a lot of experience, I have a lot to offer at the Speedway: I have a pole, I have a win, and there are a lot of people looking for rides that don’t have those accolades. It’s been different, but when we get the deal done and announced and talking about it…the [planning] differences have been very subtle. I wish everything was done, but I’m confident we’ll get there, and we’re just working the process.”