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Carpenter Qualifies for Sunday's Grand Prix
Author: Tom Blattler
Ed Carpenter, in his first race as a team owner, is impressed with his organization’s continued progress at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
With just two and a half days of testing before the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season opener, Carpenter and his Indianapolis-based squad improved their speed each session with its No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet machine. In qualifications Saturday, Carpenter recorded a best 63.359 seconds for an average speed of 102.274 miles per hour.
The Butler grad will start 24th in Sunday’s 100-lap feature around the 1.8-mile street course. Will Power won the pole position at 105.585.
Carpenter’s progression through the first two days of action at St. Petersburg saw the only team owner/driver in the series improve nearly three seconds from Friday morning’s first practice to Saturday afternoon’s qualifying. The Derrick Walker-led operation continued to work in a variety of areas as the team absorbs information on the new DW 12 Dallara suspension as well as the new Chevrolet twin-turbo V-6 engine.
ECR didn’t run its first test laps until March 8 at Sebring, Fla., and the learning curve has been steep.
But Carpenter is positive in the workings of his new squad as the team heads into its first competition Sunday set for 12:30 p.m. EDT and televised on ABC-TV. The green flag is scheduled to fall at 1 p.m.
“It’s hard to see improvement sometimes when you are near the back of the field,” said Carpenter. “But we can see it with our qualifying run. We are closing the gap each session. I can see us getting better each time we run. We know we are behind on track time, but we are making gains. The whole group (Ed Carpenter Racing) is working better together every day. This is a fun group to work with and I’m very proud of the effort the team is giving me. There is definitely something different about this new car and I am learning about it with every session. You need a new driving style with this car and engine. It’s a little bit of trial and error right now for us due to the lack of testing time. But we are making gains each time out. We need to run the 100 laps Sunday.”
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