Carpenter and ECR team draw tough qualifying round Saturday at Sonoma

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Carpenter quicker than several drivers in other qualifying group.

SONOMA, Calif. – Team owner/driver Ed Carpenter received the tough end of the draw Saturday in the opening qualifying round for Sunday’s GoPro Indy Grand Prix at the legendary Sonoma Raceway.

Ed Carpenter, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Ed Carpenter, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: John Cote

The USAC oval track veteran was up against the likes of four-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti, Toronto Double Header winner Scott Dixon, recent Mid-Ohio victor Charlie Kimball, reigning IZOD IndyCar Series titleholder Ryan Hunter-Reay and Indy 500 champion Tony Kanaan to name a few in the second qualifying group. The top six in the opening session transferred to the next qualifying round.

Despite improving his fastest time over his practice runs, Carpenter had to settle for 12nd in the opening session.

Had Carpenter’s speed been in the first qualifying group his clocking would have been faster than three other drivers and he would have moved up six starting positions.

Carpenter drove the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet to a best time of one minute, 19.237 seconds for an average speed over the 2.358-mile, 12-turn permanent road circuit at 108.358 miles per hour. The Butler graduate will start 24th in Sunday’s 85-lap GoPro main event.

“That (performance) stings a little bit,” said Carpenter after the six-lap qualifying run. “We just didn’t have the pace today in qualifying. We were quicker than some of the folks in the first qualifying group today. But you get breaks some times and you don’t other times. We just happened to be in the fast group today.”

Carpenter had hoped for an improved qualifying performance since his impressive race run at Mid-Ohio earlier this month. Ed had recorded some of the fastest laps of the race that day.

“It’s a disappointing run because I thought we could close the gap on the leaders, time wise,” he explained. “But we couldn’t do it today. I don’t know if I needed to try harder with this setup. The wind does play a factor here but it is the same for everyone.

So you have to adjust to that element at this track. We had a good race pace at Mid-Ohio and I hope we can have it here on Sunday. Just wish we were further up the grid though.”

Franchitti, seeking his first 2013 win, turned in a blistering lap to win the pole in the Firestone Fast Six shootout Saturday afternoon with a speed of 110.748 m.p.h. followed by his Target teammate Dixon, Will Power, Hunter-Reay, point leader Helio Castroneves and Kimball.

ECR Team

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Series INDYCAR
Article type Qualifying report
Tags carpenter, chevrolet, ecr, indycar, sonoma