INDIANAPOLIS — The day started out great for the Carpenter family. Ed’s daughter Makeena won the middle school state championship in pole vaulting, jumped 10 feet.
“I’m very proud of her. It’s a big day for the Carpenters,” said Ed Carpenter. He said she went six inches off the national record which is very impressive. Her dad, would later going .2mph off of being the fastest qualifier on Saturday from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Carpenter and his teammate/employee Rinus VeeKay each made the Fast Nine Shootout with taking two of the top five speeds in qualifying on Saturday afternoon.
That’s the ninth straight year Ed Carpenter Racing has a car in the Fast Nine Shootout. It all started back in 2013 and has lasted every year since as Carpenter went 231.616 mph in his four lap average on Saturday to put his No. 20 Chevrolet in the Fast Nine for the sixth time. He has three poles and two second place qualifying efforts in his previous five.
VeeKay went 231.48 mph with Conor Daly 230.427 mph. Both were personal bests with VeeKay making the Fast Nine for a second straight year and Daly starting 19th respectively.
Can they eclipse the Honda’s though who took seven of the top nine spots and nine of the top 11 overall?
“I mean, yeah. We have two cars in the top nine. I think we have just as good of a shot at winning a pole tomorrow as any of these guys,” said Carpenter. “I’ve been in this position enough times before.
“That’s the beauty of qualifying here, you have to go out and do four laps. We only get one chance at it tomorrow. That amps up the pressure again. Everyone has to make what they think is the best decision. After we all run four laps, we’ll find out who is the best.
“Yeah, for me, we have everything we need to go fight for it. That’s what we’ll do.”
As to if there’s any squeeze to carrying to bowtie flag on Sunday?
“I think we’re carrying the flag for Chevrolet ourselves, Sonax, Bitcoin, everyone that is a part of what we do,” he said.
“Just as competitors, these guys talking about you get nervous. Yeah, you get nervous qualifying. I think being in a position like Scott before, going first out, I think it’s always harder to be the first one to go out anyway. It’s nice to watch a couple guys go. Even after doing it for 17 years, I feel like if you don’t get a little nervous or anxious, you probably don’t care any more.
“Hopefully we can go out and have some fun.”