While Ed Carpenter Racing has entered three cars in the Indianapolis 500 multiple times, this weekend’s race at Texas Motor Speedway will mark the first time the team has expanded to three entries outside of their home race. Ed Carpenter, the only owner/driver in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, will join his team’s full-time drivers Conor Daly and Rinus VeeKay for the three-car lineup.
In saying that, the team has high aspirations entering Sunday’s XPEL 375 (12:30 p.m ET, NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network).
Carpenter, will be one of the most experienced drivers in the field this weekend with 21 starts at Texas Motor Speedway to date. With the exception of 2010, Carpenter has competed in every NTT INDYCAR SERIES race at TMS since the fall of 2003. He is also the 2014 Texas race winner, taking the victory after leading 66 of the final 67 laps.
This will also begin his 20th season of NTT INDYCAR SERIES competition this weekend too. He has led his own team since ECR was formed prior to the 2012 season; since 2014, he has focused exclusively on driving the oval events. Even with an oval-only schedule, Carpenter has earned at least one Top 5 finish in each of the past four seasons. He has also led at least one race in 13 of the past 14 seasons.
“I am excited to get back to Texas,” Carpenter said via a team release. “It’s always fun going to a track you’ve won at before and a place you’ve been successful, hopefully we can repeat that this year.
“My teammates tested there last week and it went fairly well. I feel really good about the work the team got accomplished, though it would have been nice to have participated in the test myself. But, as a part-timer, I have to pick and choose what I do. I am ready to get going and excited to have a race in the No. 33 – a new number for me! – and get back in the groove before we get to Indianapolis.”
That test though has Conor Daly as confident as ever heading back to the LoneStar State. Daly has raced at Texas six times with a best finish of 6th in 2020. Just last week, he participated in a one-day test at TMS alongside teammate VeeKay in preparation for this weekend’s race.
While last year he was on his head sliding across the starting line, he did so with Carlin. This will be his first race at Texas with ECR.
“I don’t think I’ve ever felt as confident heading into the Texas weekend as I do now,” said the Indiana native. “It was great to test there last week and I was very, very happy with the BitNile Chevy. We’ll have a lot to go through once we get there for the race weekend, but it feels like we have a good amount of information from the test from Rinus and I.
“We’ll have Ed in the car this weekend as well, so that will help even more. The more information we can gather, the better. I am very excited to get down there and get things going. I love racing at Texas! It will also be my first time there with ECR so I am excited to see how we can all do.”
For VeeKay, he’s coming off of a stellar opening weekend at St. Pete to where he made the Fast Six and came away with a top 10 result too. He led the race for 13 laps and despite being tasked with hitting a difficult fuel number in the closing laps, he came home with a 6th place finish.
Now, VeeKay, who’s also the longest-tenured full-time driver in the team’s history, is set to make his 31st career start on Sunday. A year ago, he qualified 8th for Race 1 and finished 9th in Race 2.
“I am really excited to head back to Texas,” said the third year Dutch driver. “We had a great test there last week and I feel like we are in a very good place with the car. Also, I am excited for barbecue and cowboy hats.”
If all goes well, one of the ECR drivers could be shooting guns in a brand new cowboy hat in victory lane on Sunday afternoon.