IPS: Indy 100: Ed Carpenter press conference

Indy Racing League Weekly Teleconference Transcript May 20, 2003 Ed Carpenter Operator: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the Indy Racing League conference call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode....

Indy Racing League
Weekly Teleconference Transcript
May 20, 2003

Ed Carpenter

Operator: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the Indy Racing League conference call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later, we will conduct a question and answer session. I would now like to turn the call over to Mr. Kent Johnson. Mr. Johnson, you may begin.

K. Johnson: Thank you, Mary, and we certainly welcome everyone to the Indy Racing Teleconference for this week, Tuesday, May 20th. Today, we will look back on the inaugural running of the Infiniti Pro Series Freedom 100 with winner Ed Carpenter. He is the driver of the No. 14 Futuba/Delphi/A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone and this past weekend led 39 of 40 laps in posting his first Infiniti Pro Series victory in the inaugural Freedom 100. Ed, welcome and thanks for joining us today.

E. Carpenter: Thanks for having me.

K. Johnson: To start with, I mean the obvious, you had just an absolutely amazing performance this weekend, both in qualifying and in the race en route to your Infiniti Pro Series victory. Tell us from your standpoint just how everything fell together.

E. Carpenter: I think it kind of goes back to the first two races. We got off to a terrible start and had an accident in both Miami and Phoenix and ended both races with DNF. So we were coming into Indy kind of behind the 8-ball, and things weren't off to a good start, and we wanted to definitely turn it around at Indy. So we kind of just went through the car and got it. It was pretty much brand new again after Phoenix, all the work they did to it. From my side, I kind of just erased the first two races from my mind and then we just got focused for Indy, and everything just fell into place. I mean, the car was perfect. It made it a really fun weekend for me.

K. Johnson: Now you're obviously tipping your hat to the team. You're driving for the A.J. Foyt Racing Team, which going back to last year is the winningest team in the Infiniti Pro Series. Last year, they won the championship with A.J. Foyt IV and now they have another race victory under their belts with you in the cockpit. With Foyt's history here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, did you come into the Freedom 100 thinking you might have a leg up on the competition simply because of A.J.'s knowledge of the track?

E. Carpenter: I think so. I mean, it is hard not to look at that aspect just because he had won four races there, and he had won another one with Kenny Brack as an owner. It seemed like he always, this is the one place he just can make cars happy, and he just has so many laps and so much experience here that I knew that that would carry over to the Pro Series car.

K. Johnson: Now as you came off of Turn 4 Sunday afternoon, or Sunday morning rather, you saw the starter haul out the checkered flags knowing they were for you; what were the emotions you were feeling?

E. Carpenter: It was very special. I mean, I have been excited for that race and to have the kind of weekend we did just, I mean, we couldn't have really scripted it any better. I mean, I could have added one more lap. But, I mean, it was pretty much a perfect weekend, and I was so relieved to finally getting the race over, and it was such a long two-day period with the rain and everything, so it was just a relief. I mean, I had been just focusing so hard on the race with all the rain-day delays and what not, it was kind of just starting to take a toll on the whole team.

K. Johnson: Well Ed, at this time let's go ahead and open our forum to the media. Just a reminder, we do a complete transcript of the call and it will be sent to your e-mail and fax machines. Now at this time, let's open the forum for questions.

Q: Hi, Ed. Talk a little bit again about how you were able to pull away with the gear selection and what a difference that made and does that come from A.J.'s long experience at the track?

E. Carpenter: Yes, after the first 12 laps we ran that night, we were sitting back at the garage and we were talking about making a gear change, and it was A.J.'s idea, and he kind of threw it out there at me. I was pretty skeptical, but he convinced me, and I bought into what he was saying, and I think that did come from his experience and that gear change, he couldn't have geared it better. And I think it just made my car a little bit better than it already was and then that on top of the other guys behind me just racing so hard for second place I think that is what allowed me just to kind of sneak away.

Q: Right. Winning that race and it had to be particularly special for you, and you live down the street and you grew up around it and you live, your part of the family that runs the facility; how unexpected was it and how kind of proud are you that you were able to pull it off?

E. Carpenter: I mean, we came into this race as a team just really focused on this race. We really wanted to win this race and use this as a springboard to get us going the rest of the season. I mean, Indy by far, no matter what period it is, whether it is NASCAR, the IndyCar Series, Formula One, I mean, Indy is pretty much the marquee event on anybody's schedule, and it is no different than the Pro Series. From that aspect, it means everything to us. We just won the biggest race of the year, so it gives us a lot of energy going into the rest of the season.

Q: In a way are you -- One other question. In a way are you glad that you decided to stay another year in the Infiniti Pro Series for experience and be ready maybe next year to test the speedway in the IRL car?

E. Carpenter: Yes, I mean, I think two years of the Pro Series is going to be good, because that way when I get to the IRL, my learning curve will not be very steep that some of the other young guys in the series. It is just one of those things where the more experience you can get in a development series like this it is just going to make for a smoother transition. So hopefully that transition will come next season for me.

K. Johnson: Ed, our last caller was asking about you looking ahead to the IndyCar Series; with the team you are at with, A.J. Foyt Racing, you are following in the footsteps of A.J. Foyt IV, who now is racing in the IndyCar Series. Do you and he have a relationship at the track where you can ask him about things you're going through now or even look ahead and ask about what to expect when you make the jump?

E. Carpenter: We have a pretty good relationship. I think we treat each other more like equals, and I talk to him about what he is going through, and he talks to me about what I am going through. It is just one of those things where we are both two young guys, and we are with the same team, so we are going through similar situations, and we can just kind of use each other to keep each other confident and just figure things out like that.

Q: Ed, the Indianapolis track being probably the longest track and the biggest track you will race on, does that pose special problems for you in your car or you as a driver? Does that make have to-- I guess you didn't have to work any harder but I guess second, third and fourth did. What does that do to your type of car?

E. Carpenter: Indy is the biggest track we go to. Speed-wise, I think Michigan is almost a little bit faster, the laps are a little bit closer raced. I mean, Indy, there is really one prepared line around the place. And as you saw those guys back in the pack, they were definitely running two-wide, so it just takes a lot of concentration and a lot of focus, and you have to place a lot of trust in the guy your sitting there racing next to. I think Indy, probably just from the speed and the nature of the track, it is probably the most mentally challenging track we go to all year.

Q: Ed, they always say that when a driver comes around his last lap and he is in front he hears all these noises. This is really your first big experience; did you hear any noises or did you feel anything coming around on that final lap?

E. Carpenter: No, A.J. was on the radio with me every lap, and I think he did a good job of keeping me relaxed. All I had to do was keep focused on what I was doing, and I think I just kept focused enough and that and with A.J. talking to me just-- I stayed relaxed enough where I never started hearing any creaking noises or engine bogging down or anything like that. I was kind of surprised it didn't happen, but I think I was just so tuned in to what I was doing, and that and A.J.'s calming words on the radio.

Q: What did A.J. say to you exactly?

E. Carpenter: He would give me like what time back to second place and tell me to be cool, "You are doing a good job," "Keep doing what you're doing," "Take it easy," "You're looking good," just stuff like that to keep me confident, so all I have to do is worry about driving my own race.

K. Johnson: Ed, starting from the pole this past weekend, it took a little while for the race to really get going, it had the incidents on the first lap on Saturday and then the rain then a yellow flag just one lap in when you finally got going Sunday. As a driver especially from the pole at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was there a part of you that was just getting antsy saying, "Come on let's get going?"

E. Carpenter: I think when you are starting the race during pole, there is more pressure just on the initial start, from getting that initial jump, and we kept having so many restarts it was just really, it was testing me. I was waiting for what happened to happen being someone get by me on restart and Mark Taylor got by me on that last restart we had, I was just kind of mad because had so many yellows and I gotten the jump so many times it was only a matter of time before someone got a little bit better start than I did. I was just fortunate enough to get a good run (Inaudible) and get him back on the backstretch.

K. Johnson: Let's turn the tables just a little bit if we would, Ed. You recently earned your bachelor's degree at Butler University here in Indianapolis, and over the past several years you have juggled school work with racing. How difficult was that, and in doing so from a discipline standpoint, how did it help you?

E. Carpenter: I think it definitely matured me a lot in the sense that I was living two different lives, really. I mean they are both full time. I was going to school full time so I could graduate in four years, and then I always had my racing career that I had to work on along with school stuff, so I think I developed fairly good time management skills earlier than some of my peers. It was just one of those things where I knew I needed to go to school and so I focused in on that, and I knew I wanted to race, and I love to race, and that is what I wanted to do, and I was not going to let school get in the way of that. So it took a lot of sacrificing on my part. I mean, I didn't have a lot of free time. I was either out racing or when I would get back I was making up (Inaudible) for school when I had been gone racing. So it made a lot of sacrifices but it was all worthwhile.

K. Johnson: As a final question for you, Ed, your victory in the Freedom 100 pulled you seven points of second place in the Pro Series point standings; give us your thoughts now on what lies ahead for your team as you look down the schedule?

E. Carpenter: I mean, after those first two races and two DNF we were sitting way back in 15th, and I was almost feeling like we had lost our shot at it, our chance at the title. But I mean leaving this race going from 15th to fifth and just sitting seven points out of second and like I do not know, I think 55 out of the lead we are definitely still in the ball game. It is just going to take a lot of consistency, and we are not going to be able not to finish any races, and we are going probably need that other yellow car (points leader Mark Taylor) to have a stroke of bad luck somewhere down the line. If he can manage to run podium every race, it will be close to impossible. I mean, second place is within grasp, so we are just going to keep finishing as far up as we can and see what happens.

K. Johnson: Well, Ed, we certainly thank you for joining us today and again, congratulations on an outstanding effort this past weekend.

E. Carpenter: Thank you.

-irl-

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Series Indy Lights
Drivers Mark Taylor , A.J. Foyt IV , Kenny Brack , A.J. Foyt , Ed Carpenter