Conor Daly struggled with handling. Rinus VeeKay didn’t. Ed Carpenter was somewhere in the middle. Still, while Ed Carpenter Racing leaves the Lonestar State without a top 10 finish in Sunday’s PPG 375, they’ll take what they learned and head to Long Beach in two weeks hoping to keep improving.
Daly battled difficult conditions today but managed to bring home the No. 20 BITNILE.COM Chevrolet in the 20th position. A tough qualifying run left him with 25th on the starting grid and an ill-handling racecar made it hard to charge forward. However, Daly persevered through to the checkered flag, picking up positions when the opportunities did present themselves.
“I struggled today, for sure,” Daly said. “I was glad to see our other two BITNILE.COM cars have a good day, but I just could not find the balance I needed. It was kind of trying to hang on for dear life most of the time. That was a shame, we did get a little better at the end but we had already lost too much ground. It was a shame for us, I hate to leave Texas like this. But, all of the cars are in one piece and we’ll move on to Long Beach and be better there.”
Over the course of today’s 250-lap race, Daly completed six pit stops. Despite falling laps down to the leaders, he remained focus on the task at hand and was undeterred to the finish.
Ed Carpenter was the highest-qualified of ECR’s three BITNILE.COM cars, starting 18th today at Texas Motor Speedway. In his season-opening race and first since August of 2022, he drove a competitive No. 33 BITNILE.COM Chevrolet to 13th place finish.
“I thought the race was a lot of fun, I hope everyone really enjoyed it,” said Carpenter. “I feel like the work that INDYCAR did made the product better for sure. I am a little disappointed with where we finished, I don’t think it’s representative of the car we had today. We kind of missed it on a couple of decisions late in the race that held us back.
“I feel like we for sure had a Top 10 car, we may not have had the speed to be in the Top 5 so we do still have work to do. I am happy we put on a good show for BITNILE.COM and Circle 8 Cranes, they had a really great group here. This was a good start to the season and I feel really good heading into Indy.”
Despite not having competed in an NTT INDYCAR SERIES race in close to eight months, Carpenter was immediately back up to speed at the drop of the green flag. On the same strategy as his teammate VeeKay, Carpenter completed five pit stops during the 250-lap race, electing to take only tires on his final stop. Today’s race was his 23rd at Texas.
Carpenter, who competes exclusively in the oval events, will race five times this season in ECR’s third entry. His next race will be the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500. In late April, he will participate in a two-day test at the 2.5-mile oval alongside Daly and VeeKay.
VeeKay rolled off 26th today after a disappointing qualifying session yesterday. Over the course of this afternoon’s event at Texas Motor Speedway, he gained 15 positions to become the biggest mover of the race. At the end of the 250 laps, VeeKay took the checkered flag in 11th.
“I had a pretty good day out there,” said the Dutch driver. “Yesterday was a struggle, qualifying as far back as I’ve ever qualified! Today I was the biggest mover, from P26 up to P11. I’m happy, I had a lot of fun. I wish I had two laps more! It was tight out there, a lot of butt squeezing! On to Long Beach, let’s keep this going!”
Over the course of the event, VeeKay steadily charged forward and raced up to the Top 10 on multiple occasions. He completed five pit stops during the race, taking fuel and tires each of the first four. On his final stop on Lap 226, he elected for a fresh set of Firestone Firehawks for the dash to the end.
VeeKay has now raced at Texas Motor Speedway five times, finishing in the Top 11 in three of those events.