INDIANAPOLIS, May 16, 2003 - Graduation from college normally means it's time to talk to prospective employers for work. For Ed Carpenter, who matriculated from Butler University in Indianapolis last Saturday, May 10th with a degree in Marketing,...
INDIANAPOLIS, May 16, 2003 - Graduation from college normally means it's time to talk to prospective employers for work. For Ed Carpenter, who matriculated from Butler University in Indianapolis last Saturday, May 10th with a degree in Marketing, it was time to get back to his job, driving the #14 Futaba/Delphi A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara in the Infiniti Pro Series.
This feeder series for the Indy Racing League's premier IndyCar Series will hold the first support race ever for the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race tomorrow and, quite appropriately, Ed Carpenter took pole position for the 25-lap Freedom 100, being held just a couple of blocks from where he lives, posting a two-lap average of 188.490mph around the 2.5-mile Brickyard oval that's been his playground since he was eight years old.
Mark Taylor, point leader in the Infiniti Pro Series - by virtue of winning the first two races of the young season - starts second in the #4 Fulmar Panther Racing car, after pushing Carpenter to put up his quick speed with his own two-lap tour of 188.065. "Mark put a lot of pressure on me but my car's been awesome since we unloaded," Carpenter said. In fact, he led both practice sessions leading up to single car qualifying, yesterday and this morning.
"My car has been perfect since we unloaded; it's been awesome," Carpenter continued. "It's very, very special to be racing here. We had a really good practice session this morning and I think we're in great shape for the race."
As temperatures rose, speeds decreased for qualifying, placing emphasis on gear selection and staying off the rev limiter of their Infiniti engines. "We had a good run," Taylor said. "The car is working well and we're quicker than we ran this morning, so you're always happy about that."
Jeff Simmons earned third on the grid in the #20 Western Union Speed Team Dallara from the Duesenberg Brothers at187.459mph. Simmons had a tough first day of practice yesterday as gearbox woes kept him off the track. The NewYorker still thought "we could have gone a little quicker. I hit the rev limiter at start/finish and didn't have enough gear today."
Despite being the second driver out of the pit box this morning, Matt Beardsley turned in the fourth quickest speed (186.450mph) in his #12 Alpine Bank/Old Republic Land Title Dallara. He admitted "We got a couple of good laps together and they're a little better than we were in practice but not as good as we hoped." Arie Luyendyk earned fifth place in his #5 Grill 2 Go/Smith & Wesson machine at 186.252mph. Luyendyk was disappointed, thinking "we had another mile an hour in there."
Of the 19 drivers entered in the inaugural Freedom 100, 18 took qualifying laps, while Brandon Erwin was forced to stand down with "ongoing problems". Speeds ranged from Carpenter's fast laps of 188.490mph to Gary Peterson's 179.550mph marker. Yet all 19 drivers expect the 25-lap contest to be a competitive one with drafting playing a major part.
Carpenter echoed the beliefs of all Infiniti Pro Series starters when he declared, "I'm just honored to be able to race here."