Ed Carpenter Racing has narrowed its shortlist of candidates to a pair of Indy NXT champions to take over the No. 20 Chevy.
After parting with Conor Daly after the Detroit round in June and replacing him with Ryan Hunter-Reay for the rest of the championship, ECR spent the final weeks of the season developing a cast of contenders to join Rinus VeeKay in 2024. That roster has been defined as 2019 NXT title winner Oliver Askew and new NXT champion Christian Rasmussen.
The pair recently shared a day on Chevrolet’s driver-in-the-loop simulator in North Carolina ahead of an upcoming test at Barber Motorsports Park where ECR is expected to evaluate the results and choose Askew or Rasmussen as the full-time driver for the No. 20 entry.
“We’re testing both of those guys on Monday at Barber,” Carpenter told RACER. “That’s where our plan lies now.”
For Florida’s Askew, who completed his rookie IndyCar season with Arrow McLaren in 2020 and subbed for an injured VeeKay and placed 12th at Road America for ECR in 2021, there’s a familiarity with the team that drew the interest of Carpenter, general manager Tim Broyles, and the rest of ECR’s leadership.
With Denmark’s Rasmussen, the team sees a bright young talent who took command of the NXT championship with five wins and seven podiums for the HMD Motorsports team.
“I’m excited to see both of them in the car,” Carpenter said. “With Christian, for the first time, and with Oliver, we have one race of experience with him when he filled in for Rinus and we want to give him another look, especially since he’s been more so on the sidelines than doing what he should be doing.
“He made a good impression back then, so we’ll see how things go at the test with him and Christian and have conversations and see what we can put together from there.”
Questions remain as to whether ECR would take whoever does not earn the full-season contract and pair them alongside Carpenter to drive his No. 33 Chevy on road and street courses. Carpenter says it isn’t ECR’s first priority, but it isn’t an impossibility.
“I wouldn’t say I think that’s highly likely, but at this point [we’re] just trying to get the 20 car fully put together,” he added. “And then we’ll go to the next phase from there.”