Fontana 500 champion set for 1st Pocono race in 24 Years
LONG POND, Pa. (July 2, 2013) – The return to the famed Pocono International Raceway for the IZOD IndyCar Series brings a smile to Ed Carpenter’s face.
The MAVTV 500 winner has been anxious for open-wheel racing’s comeback to the ‘Tricky Triangle” after a 24-year absence. Carpenter, the 2013 Indy 500 pole winner, expects to be one of the favorites when the green flag drops this Sunday (July 7) in the Pocono Indy 400 fueled by Sunoco in his popular No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet.
“It is exciting to come to Pocono this year,” said Carpenter, who scored a fourth in the most recent IndyCar Series race at Iowa Speedway two weeks ago. “I have always wanted to race at the tri-oval and now we have the opportunity this year. But the Pocono track is a unique challenge for the drivers and the teams with the three different corners.”
"Turn One is the really tricky part of the lap and that's the hard corner to get right without messing up the other two," said Carpenter, who tested at Pocono last week. "There is a challenge of doing something new. Everybody came here with a set-up on the car that we thought that would work, but, with having no experience here and being how unique the track is, you are just guessing on the car. We don't go to too many new tracks, so it's fun trying to figure out what the car needs. Every corner offers a different challenge, especially Turn One. It's a beast; it's a monster of a corner."
Danny Sullivan won the last race at Pocono, beating his Penske teammate Rick Mears in 1989.
The Pocono race is the second in the Fuzzy’s “Triple Crown” which features races at Indianapolis, Pocono and Fontana. Fuzzy’s Vodka pays $1 million to a driver who wins all three races in a single season. Tony Kanaan has a chance for the bonus after his Indy 500 win.
“There are some of the greatest drivers in IndyCar history who won at Pocono,” said Carpenter. “(A.J.) Foyt, the Unsers (Al and Bobby), Mario (Andretti), Mears, (Johnny) Rutherford, (Bobby) Rahal, Sullivan, (Tom) Sneva, (Joe) Leonard and (Mark) Donohue are some of the past Pocono champions. So that track has some great history. I would love to be a part that history with a win there. But it won’t be easy.”
"A lot of NASCAR tracks don't seem like they would make a good IndyCar track, but that's not the case at Pocono," Carpenter said after the recent testing session. "I am really happy that Brandon and Nick (Igdalsky, Pocono track operators) worked out a deal with INDYCAR to get us back there. I would like to see the schedule be a little more balanced, say 50-50 (ovals and road courses), and I think the series would like to see that too. But, it is a matter of finding more good partners like what we have found at Pocono to put them (ovals) on the schedule.”
Carpenter knows the Pocono field will be highly-competitive this weekend when official practice begins at 10 a.m. Saturday.
“The Pocono track was extremely fun to drive at the test,” he said. “And we get another test day on July 4. That should help the teams get acclimated to the track. Everyone will be learning as quickly as possible. Overall, it should a good show for the spectators since the open wheel cars haven’t been at the track in 24 years. I know the drivers are excited to race there.”
Ed Carpenter Racing