Competing in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES with drivers Ed Carpenter, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Rinus VeeKay
In late 2011, a new team entered the NTT IndyCar Series. Fresh off his first career win at the season finale at Kentucky Speedway, veteran driver Ed Carpenter announced he would be forming his own team. Ed Carpenter Racing was born with Carpenter himself assuming responsibilities of both owner and driver.
Carpenter drove the entirety of the 2012 and 2013 seasons in his own car. His first win as both owner and driver came at the 2012 season finale at Auto Club Speedway. He then captured podium finishes there the next two years, finishing second and third, respectively. The Indianapolis native solidified his status as hometown favorite when he won the pole position for the 2013 Indianapolis 500, later leading the most laps of any driver during that event.
Carpenter turned his driving focus to the oval races in 2014, hiring Mike Conway to compete in the road and street course events. ECR won three races in 2014 – Carpenter at Texas Motor Speedway, while Conway scored victories at Long Beach and the second of the Toronto double-header events. ECR expanded to two cars for the first time at the Indianapolis 500 when a second car was entered for JR Hildebrand. Carpenter was once again the fastest qualifier for the Indianapolis 500 in 2014, claiming back-to-back pole positions.
In August 2014, the single-car teams of Ed Carpenter Racing and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing announced plans to merge for 2015, creating a multi-car program that would be known as CFH Racing. ECR moved into SFHR’s existing shop at the conclusion of the 2014 season. Josef Newgarden, whose IndyCar career began with SFHR in 2012 on the heels of his 2011 Indy Lights championship, was announced as CFH’s full-time driver for 2015. Italian Luca Filippi was brought in to pilot the No. 20 on the road and street course events, with Carpenter continuing to drive on ovals.
Expectations were high for the new team and CFH Racing did not disappoint. Newgarden scored his breakthrough first win just four races into the season at Barber Motorsports Park. The team increased to three cars during the Month of May, adding Hildebrand for both events at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Newgarden’s second win came in the middle of the season when he led teammate Filippi to the team’s first ever 1-2 finish in the streets of Toronto. Newgarden followed up his first career pole position at Milwaukee with two more podium finishes at Iowa and Pocono. He entered the season finale as a championship contender, finishing 7th in the final standings.
Prior to the 2016 season, it was announced that Carpenter would resume full ownership of the team and it would compete once again as Ed Carpenter Racing. He remained the driver of the No. 20, focusing on the oval events. Newgarden remained with his same crew since his rookie year as he competed for the NTT IndyCar Series championship in the No. 21. For the second year in a row, the team featured an all-American multi-car lineup in the Indianapolis 500 as Hildebrand returned for the Month of May. Newgarden started in the middle of the front row of the Indianapolis 500, finishing a career-best 3rd. Following the Indianapolis 500, 2015 Indy Lights champion Spencer Pigot stepped into the No. 20 for the road and street course events, netting two Top 10 finishes in his first five starts. The highlight of Newgarden’s year came as a dominating victory at Iowa Speedway, leading 282 of 300 laps just four weeks after surgery on a broken collarbone. His season included 10 Top 10 finishes, six Top 5s and four podiums in 15 races. His 4th place position in the final championship standings was the best in ECR’s history.
After serving as an integral part of ECR for three years during the Month of May, Hildebrand was named as the driver of the No. 21 for the 2017 season, his first full-time season since 2012. The No. 20 lineup remained unchanged as Carpenter continued to race on the ovals and Pigot became the first driver to retain the road and street course seat for a second season. Just 20 days removed from breaking a bone in his left hand, Hildebrand raced his way to 3rd at Phoenix, topping that mid-season with a 2nd place at Iowa. During Indianapolis 500 qualifications, both Hildebrand and Carpenter advanced to the Fast Nine Shootout. Hildebrand earned his highest starting position for the 500-mile race with 6th while Carpenter secured himself his third front row start in five years with a run fast enough for the 2nd starting position. In Pigot’s sophomore season, his name became synonymous with the ability to race his way through the field as he was credited with over 50 on-track passes for position.
Pigot’s perseverance came full-circle when he was named the full-time driver of ECR’s No. 21 entry for the 2018 season. In the No. 20, Carpenter was joined by British rookie Jordan King. In King’s Indy car debut, he set the track record in qualifying, made the Firestone Fast 6 and took the lead of the race on only the fifth lap. ECR expanded to three cars for the Indianapolis 500 as Danica Patrick joined the team to close out her motorsports career in No. 13 GoDaddy Chevrolet. All three drivers made the Fast Nine Shootout for the P1 Award with Pigot earning a career-best qualifying position of 6th while Patrick qualified 7th. It was Carpenter who would be the fastest qualifier, becoming just the 10th driver to collect three or more Indy 500 poles in the century-plus history of the race. Carpenter would lead the most laps of all drivers (65) on his way a runner-up finish. Pigot filled his season with milestones, including earning the three best finishes of his career in the final seven races of the season. His first Indy car podium came with a 2nd place at Iowa Speedway, the fourth consecutive year ECR has had a driver finish first or second at the short oval.
Carpenter continued to lead his team in 2019, starting on the front row of the Indianapolis 500 for the fifth time in seven years. For the second year in a row, all three ECR drivers made the Fast Nine Shootout. ECR Chevrolets qualified 2-3-4 for the “500” with Carpenter, Pigot and Ed Jones, the highest average starting position of over a dozen teams in the race. In conjunction with Scuderia Corsa, Jones served as road and street course driver of the No. 20 car while Pigot remained full-time in the No. 21. Carpenter also scored the team’s best finish of the year as he stood on the second step of the podium at WWT Raceway.
The No. 20 featured an all-Hoosier lineup in 2020 as fellow Indiana native Conor Daly joined Carpenter. Daly drove the U.S. Air Force Chevrolet at the road and street course events and transitioned to the team’s third entry for the Indianapolis 500, the No. 47. Carpenter competed in the oval events, kicking off the season with a Top 5 at Texas Motor Speedway and representing the U.S. Space Force at the Indy 500. Fresh off his runner-up finish in the 2019 Indy Lights championship, Rinus VeeKay was selected as the team’s full-time driver of the No. 21 Chevrolet. The Dutchman’s debut season featured the best qualifying result by a teenager in Indianapolis 500 history, his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES pole position and three Top 5 finishes, culminating with the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Rookie of the Year title.
Continuity for ECR was at an all-time high heading into 2021 as the team had the exact same driver lineup from the previous season for the first time since having multiple entries. VeeKay continued as the team’s full-time driver in the No. 21, joining the ranks of NTT INDYCAR SERIES winners with his first victory in May at the IMS road course. By qualifying third for the Indianapolis 500, he became the youngest front-row starter in “500” history. Starting just one position behind was Carpenter, who rolled off 4th and earned his best result of the year by finishing 5th. While Carpenter raced the No. 20 on the ovals, Daly again competed in the road and street course events and moved to the team’s third entry, the No. 47, for the Indy 500. The 2021 Indianapolis 500 proved a career highlight for Daly as he paced the field for nearly a quarter of the race, leading the most laps of all drivers.
In early 2022, ECR welcomed a new team partner in BitNile Holdings, led by Milton “Todd” Ault III. Daly joined VeeKay as a full-time driver, taking over the No. 20 BitNile Chevrolet for the full season. VeeKay remained in the No 21, which became the Bitcoin Racing Team Powered by BitNile Chevrolet from the Indianapolis 500 onward. VeeKay’s season was off to a strong start as he earned his first pole position and podium finish of the year at Barber Motorsports Park, leading the most laps before finishing 3rd. In May, VeeKay and Carpenter replicated their starting positions from the previous year’s Indy 500. Daly’s Month of May was the best of his career as he earned his first Top 5 of the season on the IMS road course in early May. Two weeks later, he paced the Indianapolis 500 field for several laps before finishing 6th.
The team remained at two full-time entries and one ovals-only entry in 2023, each carrying BITNILE.COM as Ault’s commitment to the team continued. Carpenter reached two career milestones during the season as he competed in his 20th Indianapolis 500 and made his 200th NTT INDYCAR SERIES start. VeeKay continued to show his speed on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval, qualifying second and starting on the front row for the third time in three years. Prior to the Road America race weekend, the team welcomed Indy 500 winner and INDYCAR champion Ryan Hunter-Reay to the team. Hunter-Reay took over the No. 20 Chevrolet as the team looked to regroup from a difficult start to the season. Progress was made and both the Nos. 20 and 21 earned some of their best results of the season in the final two events of the year.
For 11 of ECR’s 12 Indianapolis 500s, the team has had at least one car qualify in the first three rows. Excluding 2015, when the Firestone Fast Nine was canceled due to weather, ECR has been in every shootout for the pole position since 2013 (changed in 2021 to the Firestone Fast Six). As of 2023, an ECR Chevrolet has started on the front row of the Indianapolis 500 for 9 of the past 11 years. Carpenter has seven Top 4 starts at the Indianapolis 500 in the past 10 years while VeeKay has qualified in the Top 4 each of the past four years, including three front row starts.
Now with well over 350 race starts, 2024 will mark Ed Carpenter Racing’s 13th season of NTT INDYCAR SERIES competition. VeeKay is the longest-tenured full-time driver in ECR’s history and will compete behind the wheel of the No. 21 for a fifth consecutive year. Carpenter will return to the No. 20 as the team transitions back to a model it utilized for many years, splitting the car between the talents of two drivers. Carpenter, the only active owner/driver in the field, will race in the six oval events in his 22nd year of NTT INDYCAR SERIES competition. Danish rookie Christian Rasmussen will drive in the 12 road and street course events on the heels of his 2023 INDY NXT championship (formerly Indy Lights).
Streets of St. Petersburg
March 10, 2024