Ed Carpenter: There’s no big secret to oval success (VIDEO)

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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.”

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III