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ECR Set For 2013 Debut, Fuzzy's Vodka Team Ready For St. Pete Streets
Author: Tom Blattler
Carpenter, winner of the 2012 season finale last September at Fontana, Calif., was proud of his first-year Ed Carpenter Racing squad scoring a race win as a “rookie” unit last year.
However, the Indianapolis racer might be even more pleased with his team’s progression as the team heads to the streets of St. Petersburg this weekend (March 22-24) in the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
“I am anxious to get back in the cockpit of the Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet,” said Carpenter, whose off-season also included the birth of his third child, Cruz, (12/12/12) with wife Heather. “That’s especially after how we finished the 2012 season at Fontana. But, overall, I’m just really excited how our new team came together in the off-season. We kept everyone from last year and even added to the unit. So we feel this team can continue to improve and find victory lane again.”
With the assistance of general manager Derrick Walker, team manager Tim Broyles and crew chief Bret Schmitt, Carpenter’s duties as a team owner are made a bit easier. But don’t be fooled by the Butler University graduate’s quiet demeanor. Ed can be vocal when the time is appropriate. And he is a leader.
“Ed has a lot of trust in the people on his team,” said Walker, the veteran open-wheel executive who owned IndyCar teams for many years. “But he’ll definitely give his opinions and thoughts during the off-season as well as in season. Ed is a very sharp person and he has a strong business sense.”
It wasn’t an easy transition for the veteran of the USAC dirt tracks and pavement bullrings. Carpenter will admit it was a struggle at times in 2012 for him and his new operation.
“We definitely had our struggles at times last year,” he admits. “We started a little behind the other teams at the beginning of last year with the new chassis and new Chevrolet. But the team began to jell in the middle of the season, especially on the ovals. We had strong cars at Indy, Texas, Milwaukee and Iowa. Then our road course setup improved by Baltimore. So you get a lot of satisfaction seeing the team develop.”
In the off-season, confidence has been building in the ECR camp as the young engineering team of Matt Barnes, Brent Harvey and Ben Siegel worked in a variety of departments to improve on the 2012 results. Whether it was off-track testing such as wind tunnel, gearbox or seven-post shaker rigs, the ECR staff continued gathering data and preparing for the 19-race 2013 campaign.
With limited on-track testing rules in INDYCAR, Carpenter and his crew even traveled to Italy for a session in the special Dallara testing simulator.
“You are limited in your testing now,” said Carpenter. “So we have to find our ways to develop the chassis. I feel that our engineering staff has done an outstanding job in the off-season to make this team more competitive, especially on the road circuits. Last year, we learned a lot about the new Dallara chassis and we have continued to learn more with each test, on or off the track.”
Carpenter’s oval expertise is well known in the IndyCar Series garage area. Ed is always a contender at an oval track, but he would like to be a contender at the street and road courses.
“I guess I’m the only driver with no road racing experience in my early racing career,” Ed said. “Actually, I didn’t race on a road circuit until I was already in IndyCars so it was a very steep learning curve. I started in quarter-midgets where all of the other drivers started in karting. Needless to say, they had a pretty big head start on me in road racing. But I still think I am learning the process on the streets and roads. So we can get stronger this year.”
With his new team’s strong off-season projects, Carpenter believes that process can show dividends as soon as this weekend in St. Petersburg.
“I enjoy that track and we had a good race going last year until I was spun out,” Carpenter said. “So we are looking forward to producing a good season-opening weekend.”
ECR Set For 2013 Debut at St. Pete