Indy Racing League Weekly Teleconference Transcript Ed Carpenter and Mark Taylor April 21, 2004 Ed Carpenter , No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. The Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Program is scheduled...
Indy Racing League
Weekly Teleconference Transcript
Ed Carpenter and Mark Taylor
April 21, 2004
Ed Carpenter , No. 52 Red Bull Cheever Racing
MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. The Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Program is scheduled for Monday, April 26. We have two participants joining us on today's call. Red Bull Cheever Racing driver Ed Carpenter will join us at the top of the call, followed by Mark Taylor, who will drive the Panther Racing/Menards/Johns Manville entry in this year's Indianapolis 500. Let's begin with Ed Carpenter, who entering ROP is 19th in IndyCar Series points and third in the Rookie of the Year points championship behind Kosuke Matsuura and Mark Taylor. Carpenter has experience at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway by winning the inaugural Menards Infiniti Pro Series Freedom 100 last May. His best finish in 2004 was 12th at the opener in Miami in February. Ed, thanks for joining us today.
ED CARPENTER: No problem.
Q: The first, most obvious question for you as you enter ROP next week is can you repeat your feat of winning at IMS like you did last May?
ED CARPENTER: That's the plan. I mean, it's that time of the year, and we're shifting gears, getting everything ready for May. I'm getting myself ready. That's the focus. I don't think we'd be there if we didn't think we could win.
Q: A couple weeks ago there was a 3-liter (engine) test at the speedway. Have you been on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in an IndyCar Series car?
ED CARPENTER: Not yet. I drove the two-seater out there last season. That's as close as I've gotten. My Infiniti Pro Series car I drove last year actually went faster than that. I'm looking forward to this week. It will be a big week, three weeks of testing. It will be nice to get on the track and help Chevy keep developing that three-liter (engine).
Q: What kind of changes are you expecting? Different feel of the car? Is there going to be a big difference from your Pro Series time out there?
ED CARPENTER: Sure. I mean, so far, from what I've experienced at the other tracks we've run, there's definitely a big speed gap, and that speed is what makes these cars difficult to drive. Indianapolis is the hardest track we go to. I'm just looking forward to the challenge.
Q: Have you enjoyed that switch from the Menards Infiniti Pro Series cars to the IndyCar Series cars?
ED CARPENTER: Yeah, it's been great. But at the same time, I'm really glad I spent two years in the Pro Series. It's definitely helped me make a smoother transition. I think Mark (Taylor) and I both could attest to that. But I'm really having a good time. It's definitely challenging, but it's always fun to have a good challenge.
Q: What about coming up from Silver Crown, the USAC ranks? A huge difference between those Pro Series cars, the downforce? Is there a huge difference taking that step?
ED CARPENTER: Oh, yeah. I mean, that's the reason why I wanted to get involved in the Infiniti Pro Series. USAC is great, it's great racing, it's intense, competitive, but it's front engine, there's no downforce. It's big tires, everything else, tons of power. I wanted to get in the intermediary, just kind of a smaller step to prepare myself, learn about a rear-engine car, aerodynamics, get some seat time in that. It's been a good adjustment. But, I mean, I learned how to race in USAC. I never forget that.
Q: We talked about USAC. Do you have that itch at all to jump back in one of their cars?
ED CARPENTER: I love that type of racing. I love racing sprint cars. I love the memories that I have from racing sprint cars. So there's always a little bit of desire to do that. But I'm happy doing what I'm doing. I have a lot of goals to accomplish here with Red Bull Cheever Racing. I would like to try to put something together to take my teammate Alex Barron out and maybe get Eddie (Cheever) back in a sprint car, maybe go out and do a test day somewhere just to fulfil that itch. But it would be good fun. Alex has never been in a sprint car. It would be a good day of fun. I'm trying to make that happen.
Q: Ed, when you look at the Indianapolis 500, what is the first thing that comes to your mind?
ED CARPENTER: Just all the years I've watched it and wanted to participate in it. I mean, that's been my drive all these years I've been racing, was to get to this point in my career. Now I'm just less than a week away from turning my first lap there in an IndyCar (Series car). I mean, I'm really not trying to think too much about it other than just focusing my mind 100 percent on it, knowing what we have to accomplish, figuring out what I need to do to get all our goals accomplished.
Q: You drive for Eddie Cheever, who of course won the Indy 500, came to the Indy 500 from a Formula 1 career. What has Eddie said to you or can you feel the spirit of what Indy means to him?
ED CARPENTER: Well, I mean, he hasn't really said much to this point. But just being a part of this team which has a 500 win under its belt, you can tell that there's a need to get back there again. Last year, the team won the pit stop competition. Eddie has won the 500. Indy is what this whole team gets up for every season. Everybody's got their head down working. We're just getting back from Japan today. We're going to start prepping everything for the month of May.
Q: Everything up to this point, even though there have been races for points, has actually been a lead up to the Indy 500. In some respect, will you be glad to get that out of the way and just settle into a racing season?
ED CARPENTER: Well, I look forward to the summer months every year. I mean, coming from my sprint car background, I was running at least two races a week. It's kind of hard for me going with months in between races. That's the thing you do look forward to after Indy. Your season really gets into a rhythm, you don't have time for a break. That's when I enjoy it. The fitness we worked so hard on, that's when it all comes into play, when the season gets gruelling. I'm just looking forward to the month of May. It's going to be exciting. Hopefully, the best comes out of it.
Q: Ed, you said you've been preparing yourself for the month of May. Is that more physical or mental?
ED CARPENTER: Both. I mean, it's 500 miles. You have to be strong in both areas to win that race. Everything's a constant preparation. The three races we've had have just been a build-up to Indy. They haven't gone quite to plan, but that's not going to deter us from working hard and getting everything we need to get done, done.
Q: You're going from 3.5 liters to 3 liters. Do you think that will help you at all because it's going to be the same learning curve for everyone else? Everyone's got a new engine; everyone has to figure out how to make their chassis work. Does that level the playing field at all, do you think?
ED CARPENTER: Oh, I don't know. I don't know about that. I think I'll be less frustrated with it because I've never experienced the speed of a 3.5-liter (engine) there. I think a lot of guys are going to be frustrated because it is going to be down a little power. I'm sure Chevy will be making good power with the three liter. I think that will be the biggest thing, that I've never been there in an IndyCar Series car. I'm going to have more of an open mind than some of the veteran drivers are going to have.
Q: That's to your benefit, I guess?
ED CARPENTER: Yes and no. But, I mean, experience is experience at Indy. It's the one track where we'll be on track every day the whole month of May and probably never see the same conditions twice. I think that's where the experience of the veteran comes in. That's why I feel good to have Eddie working behind me.
Q: And Alex as well?
ED CARPENTER: Alex as well. Last season I ran for A.J. Foyt. We won the Pro Series race. A big reason we won that race is because of A.J., the experiences he's had at Indy, his successes. It carried over to me.
Q: Have you given any thought to race day morning when everything is going on, how you're going to handle that? Do you approach it as just another race?
ED CARPENTER: I mean, you have to approach it as another race, but you're kidding yourself if you take it as just another race. I've thought a lot about race morning. I live just a couple blocks away. All these past years, I walk into the track every morning. I'll probably do the same thing this year, probably just a little bit earlier. I mean, we'll be preparing all month. Hopefully, by the time race day comes, everything will be in place. We'll know we will have a good car; it will just be a matter of going out and racing a smart race, putting ourselves in the right position.
Q: Do you remember your first 500?
ED CARPENTER: Yeah. I mean, I remember years, winners. I was too busy playing around. I remember spending a lot of time over in the Turn 2 suites watching. For some reason, I remember watching qualifying more than anything in '89, back when Rick Mears was driving the Pennzoil car. I remember me, my brother and cousins were all rooting for him. I've got a lot of memories.
Q: Who, growing up, was your racing hero?
ED CARPENTER: I would say growing up most of the years I followed Al Unser Jr., who was the best man in my parents' wedding. We always played with his kids when we were kids, so I followed him a lot. We always spent time with A.J. Once I was a little older, Eddie Cheever was a close family friend. Those three drivers were always the people I followed. Mostly Al Jr., though.
MODERATOR: Ed, appreciate it very much. We'll be joined by Mark Taylor in just a minute. We will see you Monday at ROP.
ED CARPENTER: Thank you.