Ed Carpenter (pictured) and James Hinchcliffe had their chances at victory in Saturday’s MAV TV 500 at Auto Club Speedway, but both of them were bitten by ill-timed speeding penalties on pit road.
Carpenter, the series’ resident ovalmeister, recovered for a third place finish behind the Chip Ganassi Racing duo of Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon, while Hinchcliffe came back for fifth.
But both of them shook their heads over the penalties. Carpenter got his following a Lap 103 stop for speeding at pit out, while Hinchcliffe was hit for speeding at pit in after a stop at Lap 141.
“If we wouldn’t have had the pit lane speeding penalty…The pit lane control speed [on the car] didn’t work the whole race,” Carpenter said to NBCSN. “It was just one of those things.
“But it was a great way to finish the year for Fuzzy’s and Chevrolet. Obviously, we wanted a little bit better but there are a lot worse ways this race could have ended.”
The Indiana native can certainly be pleased with how his squad fared in 2014. Before the season started, Carpenter chose to relegate himself to ovals-only competition while giving his No. 20 Chevrolet to Mike Conway for road and street races.
The decision was a stroke of genius. Conway went on to take wins on the street courses at Long Beach and Toronto (Race 2), while Carpenter scored one at Texas Motor Speedway.
“Winning the [Indianapolis] 500 would have been nice, but maybe I’m just getting greedy,” said Carpenter about his team’s season. “It was a great year with Mike picking up the two wins and me getting the win at Texas. It was really good.
“But now we’ve got a lot of work going into the offseason to start building CFH Racing, and come back even stronger next year.”
As for Hinchcliffe, he made steady progress in the opening stints of the race before charging past Juan Pablo Montoya for the lead at Lap 58.
But after pitting on Lap 73, the Canadian was shuffled back to seventh before things got worse for him later. He was able to rally for a Top-5, but didn’t hide his feelings about the penalty.
“What a kick in the [groin],” Hinchcliffe told NBCSN. “It’s one of those things. We had a good car early – obviously, it was bad fast and we drove it to the front.
“We stayed out a little bit too late on that stint and then on the next stint, [they] tried to call me in really late, and I tried to get down and missed the pits and lost a ton of time there.
“Then we got the speeding violation – the brake pedal just went super long coming into the pits and locked up, so it was a couple things stacking against us there.”