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

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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.

Brown: Dennis would have made same decision on McLaren-Honda split

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Zak Brown believes former McLaren team boss Ron Dennis would have made the same decision to cut ties with struggling Formula 1 engine partner Honda had he still been in charge at the team in 2017.

McLaren executive director Brown helped engineer a deal for the team to split with Honda at the end of the 2017 season after three tough seasons that had seen the Japanese manufacturer offer little in the way of performance or reliability.

The decision split opinion, with McLaren spurning a significant annual financial injection from Honda in order to link up with Renault, believing its on-track fortunes had to be prioritized over its commercial interests.

In an interview with Sky Sports, Brown was asked if he believed Dennis – McLaren’s long-running team chief before stepping down at the end of 2016 – would have made the same decision to cut ties with Honda.

“I think he would have,” Brown said.

“He was here when those conversations were ongoing and I think Ron always has and always will have the best interests of McLaren in his heart.

“He is Mr. McLaren. It burns him inside as much as us not to see us winning races.”

Brown also elaborated on the decision to break off the much-lauded relationship with Honda, saying the first signs of trouble with the 2017 power unit were clear in pre-season.

After a number of attempts to try and rectify the situation, Brown and his fellow team bosses felt there was no alternative but to end the Honda deal for 2018.

“We knew we were in trouble in testing in Barcelona and we worked really hard for six months to try and find solutions that would give us confidence that we’d be much more competitive in 2018,” Brown said.

“Ultimately, after trying many different things and many different ways we felt we couldn’t get there.

“Three years is a long time in Formula 1 and so we needed to change the direction to get our team back at the top.”