Prior to the Indianapolis 500 last month, Ed Carpenter had not been in a Verizon IndyCar Series race for more than seven months.
Part of that is due to the fact that over the off-season, the American chose to put Mike Conway in his No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet for the road/street races while he would drive solely on ovals.
But even with the long layoff from racing, Carpenter was in contention to win at Indianapolis until his crash with James Hinchcliffe. Then at Texas Motor Speedway last night, he bolstered his reputation as one of the best oval racers in the series with a Firestone 600 win.
However, Carpenter insisted that there’s no magical secret behind his oval success despite not always being in the car.
“I work hard all year round,” he said after leading Will Power to the checkered flag at TMS. “I train in my office and in the shop every day. I mean, what I said before Indy, no one had run an oval since [the season finale at] Fontana, and we’d tested as much as anyone. I’ll be testing twice this week. So just because you’re not in a car doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared.
“I’m engaged with the team every day. I don’t feel I’m missing anything. I mean, I’d like to run more races always, but I’m happy to run the ones I am and want to make the most of it…Every time we get in the car, I feel like Mike and I both have a chance to win right now with the job the team is doing for us.”
Carpenter’s win is the second of the year for ECR after Conway earned his second career win on the street course at Long Beach back in April. With their combined efforts, the No. 20 is finding its way up front more often.
But what about the future? Would Carpenter contemplate changing his current team set-up to go after a driver’s championship?
As it turns out, he would think about it – when the time is right.
“We’d love to go to a team when we have the opportunity,” he said. “But at the same time, we want to be able to grow at our own pace and do it in a way that’s going to allow us to continue to do things the way we’re doing them now, which we feel like is working.”
Indeed, Carpenter believes that his team is perfectly fine the way it is for now.
“You know, I wouldn’t trade any one person on our team for any other person up and down pit lane,” he said. “We’ve got a good group of people, and I think we’re able to show that on track right now.
“Like I keep saying, I’m really proud of the whole team, the whole effort, the whole group. It’s a great team to be a part of. We have a lot of fun, and it’s even more fun when you’re winning.”