Pole winner leads 37 laps Sunday and scored top-ten finish.
INDIANAPOLIS – Local favorite Ed Carpenter had the massive Indianapolis Motor Speedway on its feet in the early stages of Sunday’s 200-lap Indy 500, as the Butler University grad led the world’s biggest race for 37 laps.
Carpenter, team owner and driver of the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet, looked primed to be a contender all day long as he made his quest for the coveted Indy 500 checkered flag at the racing plant he grew up as a kid.
“We just didn’t have enough downforce later in the race today,” Carpenter said after the race. “Our strategy was good as we wanted to save fuel and not lead the race as much. I think we still led over 35 laps today but, later in the race, we couldn’t run in traffic.
The car wanted to push and I just couldn’t keep the front end down low. I’m a little depressed now because I thought we had a really good chance to win entering the race. The start was good and we could run right up front with the leaders.”
The Fontana 500-mile winner diced with eventual race winner Tony Kanaan, Marco Andretti and Ryan-Hunter Reay in the first 75 laps Sunday before Ed’s machine began to suffer handling issues.
The only problem for him occurred under a yellow flag session when Ed was warming up his Firestone tires for a restart. On lap 39, Carpenter drove down into the turn one grass when his machine got sideways.
Team manager Tim Broyles came on the radio and said, “Don’t scare us like that.” Carpenter came back with “How do you think I felt?” No harm, no foul for the ECR/Fuzzy’s team. Ed jumped to the lead on the restart and paced the 33-driver field from lap 42 to 51. His dicing with Andretti continued from lap 52 to 72 before the handling started to go south for the popular father of three.
Carpenter fought his tough-handling car from lap 75 to the finish as his team attempted to correct the handling issue throughout the remainder of the race.
At the finish, Ed had to collect a top-ten and cheer his friend Kanaan’s victory and the coveted win for Chevrolet.
Following Kanaan to the checkered flag was rookie Carlos Munoz, Hunter-Reay, Andretti, Justin Wilson, Helio Castroneves, rookie A.J. Allmendinger, Simon Pagenaud, Charlie Kimball and Carpenter.
“I got a vibration with one of the tires around lap 170 or and we made a pit stop a little early,” Carpenter said. “The crew was quick on the last lap and we beat Tony (Kanaan) out of the pits. But his car was very good today. I am very happy for TK. He has had some bad luck here over the years, so his win is popular and he’ll be a great Indy 500 champion.
Overall, we had a good month with the pole and we finished in the top-ten. It just wasn’t the finish we were hoping for today. I know we’ll be back here and be ready again next year.”
Carpenter and his ECR/Fuzzy’s crew now prepares for a tough four-race, four-week swing in June starting next week (June 1-2) in the streets in Detroit for the first road course doubleheader. The IZOD IndyCar Series then heads to three straight oval races in Texas (June 8), Milwaukee (June 15) and Iowa (June 23).