CHALLENGING STREETS OF AUSTRALIA ROUGH ON VISION RACING
Surfers Paradise, Australia (Sunday Oct. 26, 2008)- It took just the slightest contact to bring the race to screeching halt for Vision Racing on the streets of Surfers Paradise at the Nikon Indy 300 in Australia. Having made his way up into the Top-10 from a 19th place starting position, Ed Carpenter was gaining some ground on the 2.795-mile, 12-turn circuit, thanks to pit strategy, before a small misstep in Turn 7 on Lap 21.
A quick glance in his rear view mirror told him that Graham Rahal had a good run on him, so the driver of the No.20 Menards sponsored entry left the door open for his competitor. But a hesitation on Rahal's part saw them both head to the narrowest of corners (Turn 9) without much room left. Contact was made and the Carpenter was spun around, trapping the cars of Rahal, Danica Patrick, and Vision teammate A.J. Foyt. Rahal was dispatched quickly enough to get back on track without losing a lap while the others were not so lucky.
With hopes of a strong finish diminished, the 60 lap race became more about putting in good laps and gaining valuable experience for the next season's selection of road and street courses. Having run as high as 12th, Foyt took the No.2 Lilly sponsored car across the finish line in 17th place. Despite running his fastest laps of the weekend in the waning laps, Carpenter found himself in the wall, courtesy of Bruno Junqueira, on the final lap and was credited with a 20th place finish.
Pole sitter and local favorite, Will Power, led the first 16 laps, but a costly brush with the wall in the backstretch Esses ended his run. Fellow Aussie Ryan Briscoe held off reigning IndyCar Series champion and Kiwi Scott Dixon by 0.5019 of a second for the win. Ryan Hunter-Reay completed the podium.
Vision Racing will be back on track for the 2009 IndyCar Series season opener on April 5 when they hit the streets of Florida at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The race will be televised live by VERSUS and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network.
Ed Carpenter (On incident on lap 21): " I kind of messed up going through Turn-7 and I saw that Graham (Rahal) had a run. I thought he was going to go by me so I kind of left the door open but then by the time we got to the next corner and he didn't get by me I had to make the turn. I tried to leave a little more space because I knew he was there but I had to turn at some point and it's so narrow back there that there just wasn't enough room. They got Graham going back on the track quickly enough that he didn't lose a lap but I wasn't quite that lucky. That put us back a lap and it was hard to recover. We got a decent start to the race and picked up some spots with a good strategy but with both the Vision cars in that incident it ended up pretty disappointing." (On positives to take home) "It's such a challenging track that I really struggled the first day but then by the end of the race we were running pretty good lap times. I think this was much more challenging a street course than we have back home and I think the experience this weekend will make me better for next season. I'm disappointed it didn't work out today but at the same time I know that I got better today. Strategy and speedwise I think a top-10 would have been possible for us but the accident just took us out of it."
A.J. Foyt IV (on race): "The experience was good and the track was great and fun to drive. We started off the weekend with pretty decent results. We really stayed with the group of guys that had never run here before but have street experience. With the rain and spins, qualifying really set us back with a poor starting position but even still I'm sure we would definitely had a better finish with out the incident with Ed (Carpenter) and Graham (Rahal) that collected both Danica (Patrick) and myself. That put us a lap down and we never could recover from it. But that's the kind of stuff that happens on these tight courses. Overall it's pretty disappointing because we really have improved through the weekend and the year and want to show it. Maybe we'll have that chance in 2009.
ABOUT THE NIKON INDY 300: The 60 lap Nikon Indy 300 will re-air on Sunday, Oct. 26 at 11 p.m. on ESPN2.