Carpenter heading to Sunday’s Indy 500 confident with a sense of pride to be carrying the Chevy banner again so far

INDIANAPOLIS — Ed Carpenter is back and preparing to make his 19th Indianapolis 500 start on Sunday afternoon. This will mark the 11th time that he’s done so with his own team. That outweighs the 8 starts that he did prior between Red Bull Cheever Racing, Vision Racing, Panther Racing and Sarah Fisher Racing. In those 8 years, Carpenter had just 2 top 10 finishes and 6 laps led.

In the 10 with Ed Carpenter Racing, the Butler grad has 4 top 10’s and 140 laps led including 3 top 6 results over the last four years. He was runner-up in fact in 2018.

“It’s hard finishing 2nd here,” Carpenter said on Thursday. “It’s probably the worst place to be like 1.1 or 1.2 seconds. You go back to analyze the race and think there’s quite a bit of places I can find 1.2 seconds.”

However, in saying that, Carpenter says 2018 isn’t the one that got away from him. 2014 was. He says that race was the one that sticks out in his mind on one that he should have won. It was the second straight pole that he’s scored here and he led 26 laps before crashing on Lap 175.

Now, he’s back in hopes of being the one sipping the ice cold glass of milk on Sunday afternoon.

Ed Carpenter has now made more Indy 500 starts with his own team that he did prior. Photo Credit: INDYCAR Media Site

“You just have to start over and go through the process,” Carpenter said of year over year here. “Just because you’re successful one year doesn’t mean you will be the next. Just because you had a bad year doesn’t mean you’re due for another bad year. For us as a team, I know for me personally, you try to take what you can from an event positive or negative and try to get better. Maybe just go through the entire process over again to focus on different things and try to improve. You have to put in the same work over and over and over again and each time you kind of just add layers to that to be more throughout in-depth and prepared. On one hand it’s that gratifying to be that close but on the other hand you’re that short and trying to get stronger when other people are trying to improve too.”

They’re doing a great job. For at least the third straight year, the top team here is Ed Carpenter Racing. Not Team Penske. That’s a hell of a feat in the sense that Penske has a race record 18 wins here. ECR is the little team that could in comparison to Penske and on a track that Penske loves more than anywhere else, Carpenter is consistently out pacing him.

“It’s a huge sense of pride for the team for sure that we want to be on top but to have been the fastest Chevy for at least the last 3 years now running is something that I’m very proud of,” Carpenter told me. “Mainly for the people of the team who have put so much work in to build great cars and all 3 of our cars have had equal opportunity to have the speed.”

They have a great shot this year. Carpenter starts fourth in his No. 33 Dallara-Chevrolet. That’s one spot behind his teammate Rinus VeeKay. Conor Daly rolls off 18th feeling better about his car now than he did in last year’s race one that he led the most laps in.

Things are looking good right now for ECR.

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