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Ed Carpenter Likes His New Team's Direction
Author: Tom Blattler
Ed Carpenter was both happy and upset as he climbed out of the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet machine Sunday at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the season-opener in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series.
The only team owner/driver in the 26-driver field wasn’t at all pleased with the shove given to him by eventual winner Helio Castroneves outside of turn 14 on the 1.8-mile street course on lap 46. The contact forced Carpenter to spin and lose two laps in the 100-lap feature. Carpenter finished 18th after starting 24th.
But, on the other side, the Indianapolis driver was extremely pleased with the performance of his newly-formed IndyCar team in its initial outing as Ed Carpenter Racing. Carpenter’s organization was formed last November with the assistance of sponsorship from Fuzzy’s Vodka, owned and created by golf legend Fuzzy Zoeller.
“Coming off the first event at St. Pete, we are excited with the progress of the new Fuzzy’s team,” said Carpenter, winner of the Kentucky Speedway race last October. “We felt we were better than 18th there. But we learned a lot in the first race with the new car, the new engine and the new team. I thought we had a top-12 car but Helio decided to move me out of his way and that cost us a good finish.”
The personable Carpenter has put the St. Petersburg experience behind him as the team heads to Birmingham this weekend for a run at the picturesque Barber Motorsports Park. Carpenter will be making his first start at the 2.38-mile permanent road circuit when the green flag falls at 1:45 p.m. CDT in the Grand Prix of Alabama.
Carpenter and his new squad have been in a steep learning curve since the team’s first testing runs were just three weeks ago. Now they are in the real series action.
“It is a challenge for the team in this kind of situation as we are still trying to learn each other,” Carpenter admitted. “I’m getting to know the car, the engineers are getting to know the car and we are working better as a team. I was pleased with progress the team made at St. Pete and it will continue to get better with each event. As that goes on, we are closing the gap with the people in front of us. I’m encouraged with the development of the team and believe we will pick up where we left off at St. Pete.”
Carpenter also is thrilled with the progress of the new twin-turbo Chevrolet V-6 engine that debuted last Sunday at St. Petersburg.
“It was a great weekend for Chevrolet at St. Petersburg,” he said. “We were all very pleased with how the weekend went for the Team Chevy cars. Hopefully, we can keep the momentum rolling into Barber, and Chevrolet keeps winning poles and races. Obviously, we want to better our 18th place result that we had at St. Pete, and try to fight our way into the top-ten.”
Possibly the biggest hurdle for Carpenter and his new team will be the tough terrain of the Barber Motorsports Park with its elevation changes and fast turns.
“Barber is so much different from the street course in St. Pete,” explained Carpenter. “It is a fast circuit with a lot of high speed corners and corners that take a lot of commitment and trust out of the driver and the car. The track is much harder to pass on than at St. Pete. It has a much different setup on the car than at St. Pete. We need to pick up where we left off from the test at Barber and get the car better. St. Pete was our first street race and Barber will be our first road course of the season. The community is really behind the IndyCar race at Barber and it is a beautiful facility.”
Carpenter hopes to have another smile on his face when he takes the checkered flag this Sunday in the Grand Prix of Alabama.
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