INDIANAPOLIS — Ed Carpenter is celebrating a birthday this week. But, he’s got another birthday celebration coming up next month too. When the series heads to the Barber Motorsports Park for the season opener in April, it will mark the 10th year that Ed Carpenter Racing has been around. A lot has changed since Carpenter started this venture for the 2012 season. While it started off small, Carpenter hopes that this team will last at least another decade in this sport.
“I’d love to be around for another 10 years,” he told me on Friday. “It’s crazy how fast it’s gone. It doesn’t seem like we’ve been here 10 years.
“I love what we’re doing. We’ve got a great group of people, a lot of which have been with the team for the whole 10 years, which is something I’m very proud of. Looking forward to — it’s been too long since we’ve won a race together. Really looking forward to celebrating some wins this year and just continuing to establish ourselves as a team everyone has got to worry about in the series.”
Carpenter, says that while 10 years is obviously an accomplishment, it’s not been an easy road either.
“It’s definitely not an easy industry to have your core business in,” Carpenter said on some of the challenges of being a driver-owner in this sport. “It’s very volatile, especially in a year like we just went through. Can’t wait to have a year that feels a little more normal and put more of the enjoyment back in and have some fan interaction and worry about things like that more so than where we’re going to be able to go, when we’re going to get there and who we’re allowed to bring, things like that.
“It’s not an easy — it’s not the easiest of lives making sure we can keep all the people employed and keep the racecars on track, but we’re definitely doing what we love to do.”
This season, ECR will finally have some continuity. This is the first time since the team expanded to two full-time cars that all three drivers are back.
See, when it would be maybe Carpenter and a road/street course driver returning to the seat of the No. 20 Chevrolet, a new driver would come into the fold for the No. 21 Chevrolet. If a driver returned to the 21, Carpenter had a new specialist for the 20.
This year, he and Conor Daly share the 20 seat again while Rinus VeeKay is back in the 21.
“It’s nice,” Carpenter said of the same team this year as last. “I mean, it’s the first time really in a long time where we haven’t had any driver turnover. Maybe ever. Within the team itself there wasn’t a whole lot of change, either. A couple changes, but those were all, I think, for the positive. And I think we’re seeing that already in the short amount of time we’ve been on track.
“It’s exciting. Continuity is important, when you have the right group, and we feel like we have that. I think we believe in both guys. They’re both highly talented and have a lot of untapped potential still.
“It’s hard when you’re changing even just one driver because it takes time to get them integrated with the team, for us to understand them, them to understand us, because every driver is different, they like different things, communicate different ways.
“Having had that learning, I think we can do a better job for them as a team versus having to reset and kind of establish that relationship with someone else again. It allows the two drivers to work closer together just because they’ve had a year together and know what each other is good at. They know what the other is working on to be better. It’s all positives.”
Carpenter says that expectations he believes the performance is now there in the cars. They weren’t last year.
He says that he feels 2020 was definitely a building year. They had both highs and lows.
“Really since Josef had left for Penske, we’ve been kind of searching for someone that we believe can be a consistent race-winning driver and championship contender,” Carpenter continued. “We feel like we have those drivers in the equation now, and that’s exciting.
“Last year was a building year, and the expectation is always to win, but I think the expectations are a little more high this year than they probably were last year just having less unknowns.
“I definitely think we have that performance there.
“I think for my expectation, I do think that we can achieve those things, it’s just a matter of being consistent. That’s really what separates out Josefs and Scotts from everyone else right now, is just the consistency that’s required to stay at the top of the championship.
“That’s as much what I’m focused on is the ultimate performance because I know we have that potential, it’s just unlocking it week to week.”