Carpenter admits to unknowns after Texas track revisions
IndyCar’s only fulltime team owner/driver Ed Carpenter says he’s "nervous" that his team’s traditionally strong showing at Texas Motor Speedway may have been affected by the significant track alterations since last year’s race.
As well as an improved drainage system, the TMS project consisted of a repave of the racing surface and pitlane, re-profiling Turns 1 and 2 to make them 20 feet wider and a lowering of the banking from 24 to 20 degrees.
Carpenter, who won the race in 2014, stated: “If I’m nervous about one thing it’s that the track had been pretty similar for the last handful of years and we were prepared and had a good car. Now it’s a bit of a reset.
“We think we know where it’s going, but we’re all re-learning this new track and defining what it will take to be successful. I think we’re still learning that a little bit, because you test but it’s always different when you get into a real race situation.
“The track is absolutely different. The reshaping of Turns 1 and 2, with the width and the change in banking, definitely make the track more challenging to get the balance the same from Turns 1 and 2 to 3 and 4.”
The mid-April test, according to Carpenter, had suggested the new track surface didn’t create anything like the amount of tire degradation caused by the old granite-based asphalt surface.
“I think the biggest unknown is what the tires are going to do over the stint in a race situation,” he commented. “Tire degradation was the biggest factor, and it did make for good racing but it was a different type of racing. It’s what Texas became known for early on.
“I expect it tighten up from what we saw at the test. The tire degradation wasn’t near as much. That could change if it’s a lot warmer, but I expect it to be less strung out of a race. I think the pace and the tempo will be higher from green flag to checkered flag. As it had gotten, we were dealing with a lot of drop-off. [When] you took tires you could really lose or gain a lot of ground.
“So I think it will be a tighter event with everyone on similar strategies.”
Regarding the format of the weekend, Carpenter said that he welcomed that at least remaining the same as last year.
“Generally, you don’t see people doing any race running during the first practice [75 minutes on Friday morning], but just getting things sorted out for qualifying [2.15pm Friday]. The night practice [5.45-6.15pm Friday] turns into the race practice. As much as the track has changed, the format has stayed the same so we at least we know where we’re going in that respect.”
The 248-lap Rain Guard Water Sealers 600 is set to begin at 7.45pm Central Time on Saturday, with ambient temperatures during the day of 90degF. Support events include the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on the Friday evening and Stadium Super Trucks after the IndyCar race.
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About this article
|Location||Texas Motor Speedway|
|Teams||Ed Carpenter Racing|