INDIANAPOLIS — Sunday’s 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 started off great for the Ed Carpenter Racing trio. Rinus VeeKay jumped to the lead on Lap 2 and would lead every lap with the exception of the first one before he hit pit road on the 31st lap. Ed Carpenter was hanging around the top five for the first stint but stalled on that initial stop and dropped him from fourth to 28th. But, with his 18 years of experience, he steadily moved his way back up.
VeeKay, stayed in the top three most of the afternoon and while Carpenter had his problems early, Conor Daly picked up the slack and joined VeeKay up front after the first pit sequence. He came from 19th to the top three after the first caution.
Daly, then took over the lead five laps after the first restart and would lead his first Indy laps. He led 40 of them in all and looked like his No. 47 Chevrolet would be a threat to win the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. Then, came the Lap 119 crash when Graham Rahal’s tire literally fell off on the warm up lane after completing his stop and crashed as a result of that. The same tire hit Daly’s car and caused damage. His day was ruined from there. He finished the race, but was 13th instead of the top five like he was prior.
“The reason we did not win was because of our front wing,” said Daly. “After Graham Rahal crashed, a giant tire just fell out of the sky! It is about par for the course for my luck and we had to work with what we had from there. The car started understeering quite a bit, but it was nice to be out front in the first half. We proved today that we are capable and belong up there. Everything has to go perfect so if you hit a flying tire, it’s tough!”
Carpenter, rebounded to finish fifth in the end for his third top six in his last four Indy 500 starts.
“On my first stop, I made a rookie mistake of stalling the car so we dug ourselves a hole,” he said. “The No. 20 SONAX Chevrolet boys kicked ass today in the pits and with the strategy. This one is all them. The car was good, but it was tough deep in the pack. It was great to be able to get back to the fight at the end and get a Top 5. From how it was looking earlier in the day, to take home a Top 5 isn’t a bad day. It does still hurt losing this race and watching someone else celebrate. I am happy for Helio (Castroneves) – he is even older than me so it gives me hope still that I will keep coming back and chasing this thing!”
VeeKay, was held up by a slower car before his final stop as he went from third outside of the top 10. He’s go from 14th to eighth in that final stint for his fifth top five in six races run on the season. That combined with his win in the GMR Grand Prix two weeks ago as well as a front row starting spot for Sunday’s race propels him to fifth in the standings heading to the off week.
“Leading over 30 laps today feels great,” said the sophomore driver. “I am very happy with how I did and being able to finish 8th. I was leading in the first stint but we wanted to save some fuel so we worked with Conor (Daly) to run second. When the last yellow came out, we fell a bit short and it didn’t go our way. I was running 13th with a few laps to go so I have nothing to complain about. Lady Luck wasn’t on my side today but there are many more races this season and many more Indianapolis 500s in my future.”
Combined, VeeKay and Daly led 72 of the 200 laps. The future is bright for ECR.