CAUTIONS THWART ED CARPENTER RACING’S STRATEGY DURING RACE 1 OF TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY DOUBLEHEADER
Despite Being Caught By Untimely Yellow Flags, Ed Carpenter and Rinus VeeKay Show Great Pace in Genesys 300
(FORT WORTH, Texas) May 1, 2021 – Race 1 Notes
– The Genesys 300 only had two cautions and each one caught out an Ed Carpenter Racing driver tonight at Texas Motor Speedway. Team owner Ed Carpenter had just made his first pit stop moments before the first yellow and became trapped one lap down to the field. With less than 40 laps to go, another caution flag finally gave Carpenter lead-lap status to finish the race. However, it was then teammate Rinus VeeKay who lost a lap to the field as he had just stopped. Carpenter finished 17th in his first race of 2021 while VeeKay finished 20th.
– The schedule called for practice and qualifying before Race 1 of the doubleheader, but the weather necessitated other plans. On-track activity was delayed due to track drying efforts and emphasis was placed on getting in ample practice time. As there was no qualifying, the starting grid was based on entrant points. VeeKay was in a three-way tie for 6th place in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES point standings after two races, but via a tiebreaker he started 8th. Although the Genesys 300 was Carpenter’s first race of the year, his starting position of 17th was based off of the No. 20’s entrant points earned by Conor Daly in the opening two events of the year.
– The 212-lap race got off to a frenzied yet clean start. As drivers settled in, VeeKay remained 8th and Carpenter was 16th. With limited opportunities to pass on track, the No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet crew elected to pit on the early side of the window and try to gain track position. Carpenter made his first stop on Lap 53; on Lap 56, the caution flag flew for an on-track incident. As the leaders had not yet stopped, Carpenter was immediately trapped two laps behind the field. He received a wave-around and earned one lap back, but had his work cut out for him from then on.
– VeeKay avoided the incident right in front of him and jumped to 6th. He was able to make his first pit stop under the yellow, exiting the pit lane in the 8th position. He stayed there until he began to struggle with grip and slid back to 12th. The No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet crew brought VeeKay in for his second stop on Lap 116. He fought his way through heavy traffic and worked back up to the same spot. Lap 153 saw VeeKay make his final pit stop; however, a Lap 160 caution put VeeKay in the same predicament as Carpenter. VeeKay finished the race one lap down to the leaders in the 20th position.
– Though frustrated by the timing of the first yellow, Carpenter was undeterred. He raced his way up through the field, keeping himself in a position to gain his lap back should a yellow flag fly. He passed lead lap car after lead lap car, often turning the fastest laps of anyone in the field. The same yellow that hurt VeeKay was Carpenter’s long-awaited opportunity to return to the lead lap. However, with so little of the race left, he was unable to make up ground as he had done earlier. Carpenter would finish the race in 17th.
– Carpenter and VeeKay will be back at the 1.5-mile superspeedway tomorrow for the second race of the Texas Motor Speedway doubleheader. The XPEL 375 will feature 248 laps with coverage beginning at 4 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Network.
ED CARPENTER, No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet, Finished 17th: “That was a bummer of a race! We had a really good car and good pace most of the night. We stopped a little bit early, trying to get some track position, but as soon as I came out of the pits, Bourdais had his accident. I finally got back on the lead lap that last stint, but it wasn’t our best as the car had a weird balance. It stinks we didn’t get to qualify today and had to start deep in the field on entrant points. The result definitely doesn’t show the pace of the ECR cars. One of these chances I have to run the U.S. Air Force car, we will have a good run! We will have to come from deep in the field again tomorrow. It would be great if at some point, we weren’t afraid of pack racing and it would make this a cool race again.”
RINUS VEEKAY, No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet, Finished 20th: “That was a very tough race. I did finish, which was nice! We were doing pretty well, we just got very unlucky. It didn’t go our way today, but we did have great pace and could have done very well. I am happy we have another chance tomorrow and a lot of positives to take away from today!”
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