Conway, Carpenter to split Fuzzy’s IndyCar in 2014

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Mike Conway starred in his street course cameos this season in IndyCar. Now, look forward to seeing the English “silent assassin” at all road and street course events in 2014.

Initially broke by RACER and confirmed almost immediately thereafter by the team, Conway will join Ed Carpenter Racing as the road and street course driver of the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet, replacing the eponymous team owner. Carpenter will continue on all oval races, including the Indianapolis 500.

“We couldn’t be happier to welcome Mike Conway to the Ed Carpenter Racing family,” Carpenter said in the team release. “My partners, (team manager) Tim Broyles, and I are committed to building an organization based on culture, sustainability, and performance.  We are very proud of the group of people we have assembled and bringing Mike into the fold creates an opportunity for us to show even more value to our partners and strengthen our team by competing for victories at every single event in the 2014 IndyCar Series.”

Added Conway, “It is great news to be back in IndyCar next year for all the road and street courses. I had a lot of fun this year in the select races that I could do and I hope that I can continue my success with Ed Carpenter Racing next year.”

Carpenter has made steady progress over the last two years on road and street courses working with driver coach Lee Bentham and former team manager Derrick Walker. The problem was, it was hard to notice unless you really examined the timesheets because it was a case of Carpenter clawing his way back from north of 3 seconds behind the leader to 1.2 to 1.5, which in the spec-car field, was still towards the bottom.

Conway made the decision to step out of IndyCars on ovals citing his discomfort at the tail end of the 2012 season. Meanwhile, Carpenter has performed one of racing’s most selfless acts in taking himself out of the driver’s seat for the betterment of his team. They should be all the better for it if the team’s engineering on road and street courses matches Conway’s ability behind the wheel.

“I have a great deal of respect for Ed Carpenter to have the vision to put Mike in the car for the street and road tracks,” said Mark Blundell, a former IndyCar race winner and Conway’s manager. “I think that the blend of his skill sets on the ovals combined with Mike’s talent and pace makes for a very strong combination over the 2014 season.”

NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.