CAREER BEST INDY 500 START FOR ED CARPENTER INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Vision Racing driver Ed Carpenter will be making his best-ever start in seven tries at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in what will be his 100th IZOD IndyCar Series race when he...
CAREER BEST INDY 500 START FOR ED CARPENTER
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Vision Racing driver Ed Carpenter will be making his best-ever start in seven tries at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in what will be his 100th IZOD IndyCar Series race when he takes the green flag from the eighth position, in the middle of row three and behind the wheel of the No. 20 Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka special. The achievement came as a result of a heroic qualifying run earlier in the afternoon by Carpenter which qualified him for the top-nine shootout held late in the day and under the new Indianapolis 500 qualifying format.
When Carpenter made his original qualifying run with a four-lap average of 225.166 mph he was provisionally eighth and slipped to ninth, where he held on throughout the afternoon despite several close attempts from other competitors to bump him out of the top-nine. However, it was Carpenter's impressive drive over four laps that made it all possible.
The warmest weather conditions of the week caused track temperatures to rise dramatically and thus made for very slick driving conditions. Carpenter used every tool available and relied on his racing days gone by from the dirt tracks to keep his Panther Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone car off of the wall and out of harm's way. The fruits of his labors paid off and eventually he found himself in the new top-nine qualifying shootout at the end of the day after taking the ninth spot.
Qualifying for the second time today during the shootout, Carpenter turned in a conservative 224.507 four-lap average and moved up a position to the eighth spot. Team Penske driver, Helio Castroneves took the pole position with a four-lap qualifying run average of 227.970 mph.
Again, Carpenter will be making his 100th IZOD IndyCar Series start and is preparing for his seventh Indianapolis 500-mile race and sixth with Vision Racing. Last season Carpenter started 17th and drove to eighth place finish. His best drive at Indianapolis came in 2008 when he started a previous best 10th, drove his first career IndyCar Series leader laps (3) and finished fifth.
Meanwhile, team partner, Panther Racing and driver Dan Wheldon qualified the No. 4 National Guard No. 4 Dallara/Honda/Firestone in the 18th position with a four-lap qualifying average of 224.464 mph. The 2005 Indianapolis 500 Champion will start from the outside of row six for his eighth IZOD IndyCar Series start at the Brickyard. Wheldon started 18th last year as well and finished in the second position for Panther Racing.
Ed Carpenter - No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka/Vision Racing/Panther Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone
"Today I definitely feel like we earned our spot in the top-nine. The conditions were much different today and that caused the track temperature to get very hot so it was way different out here than any other day this past week. Everyone was struggling as a result and that meant that the guys that went out first had a little better conditions than the rest of the field. Those of us in the second half of the draw just really started struggling. So in my first attempt today, I felt like I could've crashed four times on my third lap alone; three times in turn 4 and once in turn 1. But that's what it's all about, it's qualifying at Indy and you've got to just suck it up and hang on to it. So that's what we did and I think at the end of the day I think being a little risky and taking chances in that first run is what got us into the top-nine shootout."
On top-nine shootout qualifying:
"So then we got into the fast nine and didn't really feel the need to take a huge risk. In the shootout we put a little more downforce on and the car felt really good which made for some serious talk about going back out. But, as it stands, we didn't really try to hard and we still picked up a spot. It's my career-best start and going from row three means we are in a pretty good spot for the race. Starting there we can just hang out during the race, improve our car during the race and put ourselves in a position to be there at the end of the race. I really like our chances going into this thing."
On circumstances surrounding return to the 2010 Indianapolis 500:
"It's been quite a year and the Panther (Racing) guys have done a great job helping me get here. I also can't thank Fuzzy Zoeller and Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka enough for making this happen along with DEEM and Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. Not to mention the fan support that kept us going too. We were so close to not even being here and now to be starting as far up in front as we are and with this good of a chance to win the race is awesome. I'm really grateful for all of the people who stepped up to make it happen."
Dan Wheldon - No. 4 National Guard/Panther Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone
"Obviously we were hoping to get a little more practice in, with the possibility of pushing the National Guard Panther Racing car into line, but at that point in time there were so many cars in line it just didn't allow for us to do that. If we would have made another qualifying run we would have had to take our original time out, and that would have been a bit risky for us because at the time we weren't completely sure of the balance of the car and so the decision was made not to do it. We've all been doing this long enough that we know what's important is how we finish in the race. I've said all along that the National Guard Panther boys have done a great job preparing for this month, and I'm confident we'll be well prepared for the race as well. "
-source: vision racing