VISION RACING TRAVELS ABROAD FOR BRIDGESTONE INDY JAPAN 300 ED CARPENTER RETURNS TO COCKPIT AND TOMAS SCHECKTER VIES FOR SECOND TOP 10 FINISH OF SEASON INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 19, 2006) -- Vision Racing is eager to hit the ground running...
VISION RACING TRAVELS ABROAD FOR BRIDGESTONE INDY JAPAN 300
ED CARPENTER RETURNS TO COCKPIT AND TOMAS SCHECKTER VIES FOR SECOND TOP 10 FINISH OF SEASON
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 19, 2006) -- Vision Racing is eager to hit the ground running upon landing in Japan for the Bridgestone Indy Japan 300 as it will mark the first race in the 2006 IndyCar Series season that both full-time Vision drivers will start for the team. Ed Carpenter, driver of the Vision Racing #20 Dallara/Honda/Firestone was forced to miss the first two races after an accident suffered in open practice at Homestead-Miami Speedway. IRL medical director, Dr. Henry Bock did not clear Carpenter to drive until the recent open test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, thus this weekend's race will be Carpenter's first of the season.
"I am looking forward to Japan," Carpenter said. "We should have very good cars in Japan and I really need to have a good weekend to get my season started off right. We definitely need to be in the top 10, and it would be great to leave Japan with a top five finish. After missing the first two races, I need to start off strong and establish some consistency to make up the points I lost at Homestead and St. Pete."
Carpenter's teammate, Tomas Scheckter, pilot of the Vision Racing #2 Dallara/Honda/Firestone is also eager to take to the track at Twin Ring Motegi given the potential he's shown this season. At the season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Scheckter finished ninth giving Vision Racing its best finish ever, and the following weekend on the Streets of St. Petersburg, he was running in fourth position with just three laps left before suffering contact with Buddy Rice. The accident ended Scheckter's race and left him in the 12th spot and 12th in the championship point standings.
Scheckter recalled, "Overall I think St. Pete went well, all things considered. We are continuing to learn as a team and we showed great potential at St. Pete. We had good lap times and ran a good race. The results could have been better, but in all it was a good show, but a disappointing day for me at the end of the race."
Even though Carpenter was absent from the cockpit at St. Petersburg, the #20 car competed in the race as "super sub" Roberto Moreno filled in for Carpenter and the team. Starting in the 11th spot, Moreno drove well before contact with Vitor Meira knocked him out of the race early. Moreno finished in the 18th spot. Carpenter was forced to watch the race unfold from the pit stand, causing him to yearn even more to get behind the wheel.
He said, "It was very frustrating to be in St. Pete the whole weekend as a spectator, so it is good to get back with the guys and get started. I feel a little weird because my season really hasn't' started. It was good to test, but I am really ready to race, I feel very behind not being able to race yet."
Despite the late race crash at St. Pete, Scheckter is positive about the team's performance the first two races of the season. Securing a top 10 finish in the first event and nearly earning a top five spot a week later has Scheckter beaming with confidence. Not only that, but in three previous starts at Twin Ring Motegi, Scheckter has improved his finishing position each year. In 2005 Scheckter rounded out the top 10 and he hopes to improve upon that in 2006.
He said, "My focus for Japan is to improve on what I've already done this season, help the team continue to get better, continue to record a better finish each time I go to Motegi and win the race!"
Outside of the race itself, there is no getting over the change in culture and location for these drivers as well. The diverse destination of Japan is a favorite for Carpenter who said, "The fans are great in Japan! They are so knowledgeable about IndyCar racing and accept us with open arms. It is fun to go back each year just for the fans alone, but the track is a welcome challenge from all the drivers. There isn't a track like it in the US, so it is a fun race for us. I enjoy the whole trip as Japan has a neat culture. But after a week there, I am always ready to come home. The only thing I plan on doing differently is finishing the race. I don't have a finish in Japan as of yet."