Carpenter’s oval mastery has now spanned 3 different styles of races

1 Comment

Ed Carpenter now has three career Verizon IndyCar Series wins, all on ovals, and all in completely different styles of oval racing.

With the previous generation higher downforce, lower horsepower Dallara IR03 chassis, Carpenter took a surprise but popular first career win at Kentucky Speedway in 2011, edging Dario Franchitti on the bumpy 1.5-mile oval in what was IndyCar’s most recent race at that track.

Needing to manage the race in terms of tires, handling and downforce levels, Carpenter excelled once again at Fontana 2012 – the season finale victory that year was the first for his own team and removed him as just a “one-trick pony” as you were.

Fittingly, on a track where he’s wanted to break out for nearly a decade, Carpenter finally delivered Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway. This was again another “driver’s race” at TMS and one where Carpenter continued to prove his oval savvy and veteran mindset in knowing how to master the package for this race, even though he said there were no secrets.

Carpenter owes some of his success to his USAC roots. It took more than 10 years, but some of the skills learned and honed in Midgets, Sprint Cars and Silver Crown, particularly the latter, carried over to balance over the course of Saturday night’s 248-lap race at TMS.

“The Silver Crown races were great for learning how to manage tires,” Carpenter explained post-race Saturday night. “You’re running one set of tires, one tank of fuel for 100 miles, I think I learned more about patience and managing a car and dealing with something that’s not perfect all the time in the Silver Crown races, and those have kind of all gone away as far as pavement racing goes.”

He also expanded on the nerve-wracking nature of the final stint, when some teams opted to take tires and Carpenter had to hang on for the final three laps on old ones.

“On one hand I was nervous, just because I wasn’t sure what the right decision was for us to make,” he said. “It’s hard to pit, but we were pretty far into our tires, and you know new tires are going to be strong.

“It was a handful the last couple laps, but you get in that position I’ve got to make sure I bring it home for the guys because they did such a great job all night with the changes on the car during the race, the pit stops, I felt like it was our race to win.”

And win it he did. The pair of Carpenter and Mike Conway are the first pair to win a race in the same season in the same car since Bruno Junqueira and Oriol Servia in the No. 2 Newman/Haas Racing Lola-Cosworth in the 2005 Champ Car World Series season.

BREAKING: John Force taken to hospital after Phoenix eliminations crash

Photo courtesy NHRA
Leave a comment

16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force has been taken to a local hospital for evaluation and examination following a wicked crash with fellow Funny Car driver Johnnie Lindberg.

The crash occurred during the quarterfinals of Sunday’s final eliminations in the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix.

Force was headed for a win when the engine on his Peak Chevrolet Camaro blew up just as it crossed the finish line, destroying the body. Lindberg, meanwhile, lost traction about one-third of the way down-track, but then got back into the gas to try and catch Force.

Force appeared to lose control of the body-less car and went across from the left lane he was in to the right-hand lane, where he hit the retaining wall in front of Lindberg.

Lindberg tried to avoid Force, but couldn’t. To make matters worse, the body on Lindberg’s car then came off and Force’s and Lindberg’s cars got tangled up in Lindberg’s parachute, sending both chassis’ into the left retaining wall.

Lindberg emerged from his Funny Car under his own power and was checked at the medical center before heading back to his pit.

Force, meanwhile, was helped out of his mangled wreck by the NHRA Safety Safari and was transported by ambulance to the hospital due to the severity of the impact.

Even though Force will be credited with the round win, he obviously will not be able to continue for the remainder of the eliminations.

To add insult to injury, NHRA officials charged Force with oiling down the racetrack, his third of the season in just the first two races. That will cost him 15 points in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series standings and a fine of $4,000.

Here are several posts from social media, including video of the incident from NHRA:

This is the second time Force has had an engine explode and the body blew off in the last two weeks. He also wrecked during the qualifying Feb. 9 for the season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California. Here’s the video of that wreck:

MORE: John Force taken to hospital as a precaution after Funny Car motor explodes.

We’ll update Force’s condition when it becomes available.

Follow @JerryBonkowski