INDIANAPOLIS, September 16, 2003 - Recent Butler University graduate Ed Carpenter shouldn't be blamed if he's getting confused by where he's supposed to be on any given race weekend. Ed Carpenter. Photo by indyracing.com/Ron ...
INDIANAPOLIS, September 16, 2003 - Recent Butler University graduate Ed Carpenter shouldn't be blamed if he's getting confused by where he's supposed to be on any given race weekend.
That's a lot of seat time and Carpenter is more than happy to be able to do it all. While his second Infiniti Pro Series season isn't exactly what he'd hoped for after taking third in the IPS series' first title chase last year, he's looking forward to the future.
Consistency has been Carpenter's hallmark since realizing, at age 16 he wanted to be a professional race car driver. Third again this season in the IPS ranks with two races yet to run, Ed is 109 points south of leader Mark Taylor (414-305).
Driving the #14 Futaba/Delphi Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone racer, Carpenter has been up and down the standings all season, scoring his first Menards IPS victory on his hometown track, Indianapolis Motor Speedway this May. He was second to Taylor at Chicagoland in the closest 1-2 finish in the IPS' short history.
Ed is hoping to reverse that finish in California, all the while looking forward to competing in his second IndyCar Series event with PDM Racing, driving a #18 PDM Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone. At least the chassis maker and tire manufacturer are the same.
In the various USAC series where he's competed, Carpenter is accustomed to jumping out of one race car and into another. "At Chicago, it was a lot of fun to do both races. Scheduling by the Indy Racing League made it easy for me." Having to prepare for his IndyCar Series qualifying debut, Carpenter was unable to attend the post-race Infiniti Pro Series press conference after taking second place.
"The Infiniti Pro Series gives drivers a comfort level in that sort of car. They're very similar," Carpenter professed, "but the Indy car is going faster for a much longer period of time." Without time to debrief with engineers he got attention while in the car each day.
"Mostly, I have to switch my brain on and off to make sure I know where I'm going," he laughed. Even his experience in USAC helped the Speedway, IN resident prepare for Indy cars. "With midgets, sprints and Silver Crown cars you drive as hard as you can all the time. That's how it is in Indy cars right now.
"The big differences - aside from going from front-engine to rear-engine racers - is in how big the differences in aerodynamics/no aerodynamics, the speed and distances we run." While tempted to run the Silver Crown races right now, "Indy cars are too important. It's a big enough risk doing the Infiniti series."
In his first IndyCar Series race, Carpenter intended to "be patient and finish the race." He found himself running in the top ten when "the flag flew I just went from the start. The car felt good and I didn't feel like I was over-driving it." So, from his 16th place grid slot, Carpenter moved up the field and flew, placing 7th at the 50-lap mark. "These races are longer and more intense. I have to work on distance racing and pace myself. I have to prepare mentally." To do so, he's watched earlier 2003 IRL races.
"I have to stay relaxed and know what I have to do. When things go well, the race goes by pretty quick," he smiled. Carpenter is looking at his options for 2004 and hopes to be in the IndyCar Series. "I think I have a shot at a test with Panther Racing," who fielded Sam Hornish these past three years. "Hopefully, I'll get a chance and do a good test with them. I think I'm on the list" to replace the two-time Champion.
His first time doing pit stops without testing went pretty well at Chicagoland and, despite no opportunity to perform test pit stops, "I learned a lot. I've got some things to work on like a good in-lap. I need to maintain better speed before I get to the 60mph [pit road] limit. I was a bit nervous about doing that [pit stops] but I'm sure we'll get better."
Ed Carpenter is hoping to parlay his Infiniti Pro Series experience into a full-time IndyCar Series ride for the 2004 season. His ultimate goals? "I want to win the IndyCar championship and multiple Indianapolis 500s," he said. Sounds like a lot of other young drivers, but Ed Carpenter appears to have the inner drive to make it happen.