VISION RACING HEADS WEST TO KANSAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY LOOKING TO KEEP STREAK ALIVE INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (June 28, 2006) -- Passing the half-way point in the 2006 IndyCar Series season, Vision Racing heads to Kansas Speedway for the Kansas Lottery Indy...
VISION RACING HEADS WEST TO KANSAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY LOOKING TO KEEP STREAK ALIVE
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (June 28, 2006) -- Passing the half-way point in the 2006 IndyCar Series season, Vision Racing heads to Kansas Speedway for the Kansas Lottery Indy 300 focused on continuing a streak of top-10 finishes. Now heading into the eighth round of 14 races this season, the team is coming off their collective best finish of the season at Richmond International Raceway where drivers, Tomas Scheckter and Ed Carpenter, each earned their third straight top-10 finish; taking the checkered flag in seventh and eighth respectively.
Carpenter, driver of the Vision Racing #20 Dallara/Honda/Firestone, has had the best drives of his young IndyCar Series career as of late with three straight top-10 finishes. Most recently at Richmond, Carpenter finished eighth after starting 13th in the SunTrust Indy Challenge presented by XM Satellite Radio. Prior to that Carpenter also started 11th and finished ninth at Texas Motor Speedway and at Watkins Glen International he advanced 12 positions to finish a career and team-best of sixth.
Not to mention, Carpenter also earned an 11th place finish in the 90th Indianapolis 500 for the second year in a row. That's four finishes and three top tens in just the five races that Carpenter has competed in this season. He actually missed the first two races due to injury, thus missing out on additional top-ten finishes and points. Carpenter has already moved up to the 16th spot in the points standings, which is where he finished his rookie season in 2004. Last year he finished up in 18th. Needless to say, he's focused on improving upon those numbers in 2006.
"Well, we definitely are getting some consistency and are showing that we are a top-10 team," Carpenter commented about the team's recent success. "We just have to keep doing what we have been, keep improving, and I think that the top-five finishes will follow. If you stay in the top ten long enough, you are going to get top-fives, and if you keep in the top-five long enough you are going to get some wins. So we need to get in the top-five soon."
Carpenter will look to break into the top-five this week at Kansas' mile and a half oval. He has two previous attempts at Kansas Speedway. In 2004 he started in the 16th spot and finished in 14th with Cheever Racing. Last year with Vision Racing Carpenter started from the 18th position and finished 17th. In both events Carpenter was running at the end, so he knows what it takes to go the distance. Now he'll use his recent momentum to record a new personal best at the track.
Carpenter said, "It is a fast 1.5-mile track, but it can be very tricky. I had a good car there last year, just didn't have the finish. It is a place where the second and third grooves come into play. In the past there has always been the third groove, but after the test I think we will only see two grooves. I know what to expect so I think we can go in there and be competitive."
Fortunately for Carpenter and the team, it's just been a matter of days since they turned laps at Kansas. A recent test there earlier in June gave the team a nice refresher heading into Sunday's event. Carpenter noted, "We had a pretty good test. We tried a lot of things on the car, and learned quite a bit. I think we need to improve on our racecar from where we left off at the test, and will be looking good for a top-five."
Carpenter's teammate, Scheckter, has also been enjoying some strong runs of his own in recent weeks. At Richmond, Scheckter drove the #2 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone to its best finish all season and gave the team it's highest oval finish of seventh, after starting the race from the 12th spot.
That was also Scheckter's third consecutive top-10 finish. In the weeks prior, he scored 10th place finishes at Watkins Glen and Texas. The consistency has slowly but surely allowed Scheckter to move back up in the points standings. He currently is sitting in the 13th spot.
In five IndyCar Series seasons, Scheckter has accumulated two wins and eight poles, with one of those poles coming at Kansas. He held the pole there during his rookie season in 2002 with Cheever Racing. In fact, Scheckter has never started worse than fifth at Kansas.
In 2003 he started on the front row in the second spot. In 2004 he started the race from fifth and last season he took the green flag from the fourth spot. His average starting position at Kansas is third. In his last three attempts at Kansas Scheckter has finished the event. Only in 2002 did he not finish as he was involved in an accident and wound up 15th. In 2003 he finished ninth, followed by 15th in 2004 and last season he earned his best finish at Kansas with Panther Racing when he brought the car home in fifth.
Scheckter said, "I'm looking forward to Kansas, maybe not the heat so much, but it's always a good race. I've had good qualifying attempts there, but my finishes haven't worked out as well as I would have liked. Given what we've been able to do recently, I'm confident that the team can help me turn that around."
About the team's recent strong runs, he went on to say, "We definitely are looking forward to getting another top-10 at Kansas and hopefully start venturing into the top-five now. We know that we can do it, just like we knew that we could consistently run in the top-10 so hopefully we'll start seeing even better results."
Watch for Vision Racing to make it four top-10 finishes in a row as the 200-lap, 300-mile Kansas Lottery Indy 300 gets started at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, July 2nd. The race will air at 1:00 p.m. (EDT) on ABC Sports, IMS Radio Network, XM Satellite Radio channel 145 and on the web at www.IndyCar.com.