Two weeks ago at the Indianapolis 500, Ed Carpenter was left bitterly disappointed after a crash with James Hinchcliffe ended his hopes for a win.
Tonight at Texas Motor Speedway, he’s feeling much happier.
Carpenter, the Verizon IndyCar Series’ sole owner/driver, had to survive a restart with two laps to go but claimed the checkered flag in the Firestone 600 to give his Ed Carpenter Racing team their second win of the year alongside ECR road/street racer Mike Conway’s win at Long Beach.
“I knew we had a good car,” Carpenter said to NBCSN in Victory Lane. “We had a good test here a couple weeks ago – or a couple of months ago, whatever it was. I just felt like we left something on the table in qualifying, but it made me extra-motivated for tonight.
“The first two stints weren’t great and I had one bad stint, but the guys just made great adjustments all night and the Fuzzy’s car was hooked up by the end.
“…I was a little worried about that last yellow. I knew guys were going to come in. We talked about what we’d do in that situation and it was kind of undecided, but [team manager] Tim [Broyles] and the boys made the right call.”
Going into tonight’s race, Carpenter said that he had gotten over his ‘500’ wreck. But he still felt that the Texas win was a measure of redemption for himself and ECR.
“We had a car to win Indy and I’m not saying that we would have beat Ryan [Hunter-Reay] but I think we were the best to have a shot at Ryan,” he said.
“So, It’s nice to come back here and get a win. I’m really proud of the team – two wins already this year. It’s a good year, so all the credit goes to these guys.”
It looked like Carpenter and pole sitter Will Power were going to fight it out directly for the win. Carpenter took the lead from Power on Lap 183 of 248, and the two pitted together with 36 laps to go.
But Power, the series’ championship leader, locked up the tires as he hit pit road. And after the two made their stops – with Carpenter coming out ahead – Power was hit with a speeding penalty.
From there, it appeared Carpenter was in the clear until an engine failure for Takuma Sato brought out the caution with less than 10 laps to go.
Power had fallen back to sixth after the penalty, but during the final caution, he was brought in for new tires and took the last restart in fifth.
When the green came out, Power took off with the fresh rubber. On the final lap, he got past Team Penske teammate Juan Pablo Montoya to pick up his second consecutive runner-up finish.
But immediately after the race, Power beat himself up for the speeding penalty.
“What an awesome call by my team to get tires, [but] I just screwed it up again and got another drive-through [penalty],” he said. “That’s four drive-throughs in five races. That’s not good enough.
“Anyone who says I don’t get drive-throughs or penalties are crazy, man. I get ’em every race.”
When asked if he could have won if not for the penalty, however, Power wasn’t sure.
“Hard to say,” he said. “Ed was awful strong and he’s an awesome driver. It would’ve been a good battle at the end. My car was good at the end of stints.”
Montoya’s third-place finish is his first podium result since making the switch back to open-wheel racing with Penske over the off-season.
However, he wasn’t entirely happy at the end of the night because of what he perceived as the leaders going early on the last restart.
“We’re getting better and we’re getting there,” he said about his performance before moving on to the restart. “I was kind of pissed off at that restart because you’re expecting them to go in a [restart] zone and that’s why they have the zone, and when they don’t respect it, it’s kind of unfair.”
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ Simon Pagenaud did pit late for tires and finished fourth, while Scott Dixon rounded out the Top 5 for Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES – FIRESTONE 600
Texas Motor Speedway
1. 20-Ed Carpenter, ECR-Chevy
2. 12-Will Power, Penske-Chevy
3. 2-Juan Pablo Montoya, Penske-Chevy
4. 77-Simon Pagenaud, SPM-Honda
5. 9-Scott Dixon, Ganassi-Chevy
6. 10-Tony Kanaan, Ganassi-Chevy
7. 8-Ryan Briscoe, Ganassi-Chevy, -1 lap
8. 83-Charlie Kimball, Ganassi-Chevy, -1 lap
9. 7-Mikhail Aleshin (R), SPM-Honda, -1 lap
10. 3-Helio Castroneves, Penske-Chevy, -1 lap
11. 67-Josef Newgarden, SFHR-Honda, -1 lap
12. 15-Graham Rahal, RLL-Honda, -2 laps
13. 34-Carlos Munoz (R), Andretti-Honda, -3 laps
14. 17-Sebastian Saavedra, KV/AFS-Chevy, -4 laps
15. 27-James Hinchcliffe, Andretti-Honda, -4 laps
16. 98-Jack Hawksworth (R), Herta-Honda, -4 laps
17. 18-Carlos Huertas (R), Coyne-Honda, – 4 laps
18. 14-Takuma Sato, Foyt-Honda, Lap 238, Mechanical
19. 28-Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti-Honda, Lap 135, Mechanical
20. 11-Sebastien Bourdais, KVSH-Chevy, Lap 118, Contact
21. 19-Justin Wilson, Coyne-Honda, Lap 118, Contact
22. 25-Marco Andretti, Andretti-Honda, Lap 3, Mechanical
Race Statistics: Winner’s average speed: 178.301 mph; Time of Race: Two hours, 1 minute, 25.5758 seconds; Margin of victory: 0.5247 seconds; Cautions: 3 for 23; Lead changes: 11 among 3 drivers.
Lap Leaders: Power 1 – 56, Montoya 57 – 60, Power 61 – 99, Montoya 100 – 102, Carpenter 103 – 125, Power 126 – 170, Carpenter 171, Montoya 172 – 177, Power 178 – 181, Carpenter 182 – 212, Power 213, Carpenter 214 – 248.
Point Standings: Power 370, Castroneves 331, Hunter-Reay 310, Pagenaud 279, Andretti 235, Munoz 227, Montoya 223, Dixon 214. Kanaan 189, Wilson 182.