Growing up in the shadows of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at 16th and Georgetown Roads in Speedway, IN, Ed Carpenter always wanted to race in the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. Last year the USAC midget, sprint and Silver Crown veteran ...
Growing up in the shadows of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at 16th and Georgetown Roads in Speedway, IN, Ed Carpenter always wanted to race in the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.
Last year the USAC midget, sprint and Silver Crown veteran accomplished that goal, but did not exactly meet his own expectations, banging wheels with former Menards Infiniti Pro Series driver Mark Taylor and crashing out after starting 16th. Carpenter ended up in 31st place after finishing only 62 of 200 laps.Red Bull Cheever Racing to the new Vision Racing team owned by his parents Laura and Tony George, Carpenter engages in the day to day running of the start-up squad, which now owns all of the physical property that once belonged to longtime Indy Racing League competitor Tom Kelley.
Driving the #20 Vision Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone entry, Carpenter qualified 26th for the 89th Indianapolis 500 on the third day of time trials. He moved up 15 positions over the race and, thanks in part to his own perseverance in addition to the fact that 17 drivers failed to see the checkered flags, Ed Carpenter made it to the finish in 11th place.
"I was very comfortable in the race," Carpenter confirmed, "and it was definitely better the whole month. I knew what to expect this time," said the winner of the inaugural Futaba Freedom 100 Menards Infiniti Pro Series race in 2003, the first support race ever held for the Indy 500.
"I knew I had to be more aggressive so I didn't get caught by the leaders too easily. At mid-race," Carpenter said, "I began to settle in. Obviously attrition helped us a bit."
Ed nearly lost his forward momentum early in the contest with Larry Foyt crashed into the Turn 1 wall on the 17th lap. "I was behind the Foyt thing and I couldn't see anything. My spotter did an awesome job helping me through the spinning car and debris."
To physically prepare for the tough 17-race IndyCar Series season, Carpenter does a good deal of weight training in the off-season; he does cardiovascular exercises throughout the year. "A long race like Indy is very, very hard on your body. The better prepared you are, the better you perform."
As a second year driver, Carpenter's perspective is a bit different than it was in 2004, all for the better. He enjoys working with team manager Larry Curry and was grateful for the addition of Jeff Ward as his Indy teammate. When the team brought in USAC tech wizard Owen Snyder III to help out on Ward's car, both Carpenter and the eight-time AMA motocross champ benefited.
"I work with Larry all the time, all day and every day. The deal with Jeff was just for Indy but we'd like to see a second car eventually. First we have to make my car competitive before we do that," Carpenter conceded.
As a Brickyard neighbor, he found this year's increased crowd pleasurable. Because he can walk to the track instead of driving, traffic was no problem.
"This whole month has been really cool and having a good race surely helped me enjoy it. The biggest thing was Carburetion Day and the number of people who came out. Race day you expect to see the crowds and you get used to that but this was pretty phenomenal," Carpenter exclaimed.
This year's Indianapolis 500 managed to beat the later NASCAR broadcast in terms of viewers, something that hasn't happened before since the Indy Racing League was formed.
Broadcast [viewer] numbers were up 40 percent and, according to Tag Garson, ABC Sports director of programming and acquisitions, "It was an overwhelming, fabulous race. There were terrific storylines going in and coming out," he said.
Ed Carpenter was proud to be part of ABC Sport's Indy 500 storylines. In 2006 he'd like to move up ever higher in the standings but he's patient. With a new team just getting settled in, he has to be.