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Carpenter Excited For Iowa Race After Good Test Run Last Week
Author: Tom Blattler
Carpenter, who captured his first IndyCar Series race last October at Kentucky Speedway, believes his No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet will be a strong contender this Friday and Saturday (June 22-23) in the Iowa Corn 250 event at the lightning-quick, high-banked short oval east of Des Moines. Carpenter has recorded two top-ten finishes in his four previous starts at Iowa Speedway.
Carpenter is no stranger to racing in Iowa, either. The former sprint car and midget driver has competed in several dirt tracks throughout Iowa including the famed Knoxville Raceway.
“I always enjoy racing in Iowa and this weekend’s events will be a little bit like my sprint car days with the qualifying heat races,” said Carpenter, the only team owner/driver in the IndyCar Series.
For the first time in some 35 years, the IZOD IndyCar Series will have Friday qualifying heat races to determine the starting lineup for the 250-lap Saturday night main event.
Carpenter is very optimistic coming to Iowa Speedway with his new team, Ed Carpenter Racing, following a strong testing session last week at the 7/8-mile oval.
“We had a very good test last week at Iowa Speedway,” he said. “It’s been a tough schedule on the crew with three straight weeks at Indy, then races at Detroit, Texas and Milwaukee and two tests in between there too. Now, we come to Iowa with a confidence to race for the win. Our team has been working so hard to get our Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet in the fight for the win. I think we have a good chance to battle at the front.”
Carpenter, the only driver in the series whose earlier racing career included dirt track racing, has been impressive in recent oval races this year. The Butler University graduate drove from 28th to third in the Indy 500; from 19th to second at Texas; and from 22nd to eighth last Saturday at Milwaukee.
“I wish we could have qualified better at the ovals because our racing setups have been very good,” he said. “We haven’t received the results with the good charges through the field, but it shows we can be very competitive with the top teams. Now, I think we’ll have a strong effort at Iowa.”
The ECR team has been working with one chassis for the first eight races of the IZOD IndyCar Series this year. Due to a qualifying crash at Indy, the Fuzzy’s Vodka squad was forced to race its road course chassis at the oval races also. But now that situation will change at Iowa Speedway.
“We’ll bring out our oval chassis for Iowa, as the team has worked overtime to get the crashed car ready to go,” Carpenter said. “It has been a non-stop project to get the oval car ready despite racing each week with the road course car. That poor car has to be pretty tired. So we are excited to bring a new car to Iowa and see how it does.”
Carpenter’s charge last Saturday at Milwaukee might have been better as he drove to sixth with 25 laps remaining in the 225-lap contest. However, Ed was forced high into turn one due to some lapped traffic and had to settle for eighth at the checkered flag.
“It was just a great job by the whole team after being down to one chassis since Indy,” he said. “I was pleased we got eighth because it’s a season best, but I thought we could have had a top five. We got up to sixth before the last restart. But several of the lapped drivers checked up in turn one and I had to hit the brakes. It’s nothing against them because I have been in their spot before. It’s a tough position for a lapped driver. I feel we have some momentum now after the Milwaukee race and a strong test at Iowa.”
And it’s that momentum that could give Carpenter the potential to enjoy another winner’s circle celebration this Saturday at Iowa Speedway.
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