Ed Carpenter talks Newgarden’s win and preparing for superspeedway aero kit at Indy

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It’s a great week to be Ed Carpenter.

The co-owner of Carpenter Fisher Hartman Racing saw his driver, Josef Newgarden, run away with his first career Verizon IndyCar Series win Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park. It was also the first win for the recently merged CFH Racing.

“I was really, really happy for Josef when the merger happened, and it was unknown if he was going to be coming back at that point,” Carpenter said during a Wednesday conference call. “He had another offer, and (I) spent a lot of time talking to him and trying to sell him on how we can help him, and to be able to go out and get a win early in the season, I think makes him feel good about his decision and validates the belief that we all have in him and his abilities.”

When CFH Racing unloads at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend to begin preparation for the Indianapolis 500 with an aero kit test, it will do so with three teams instead of two.

In two cars will be Newgarden and JR Hildebrand. The third will be driven by the 34-year-old Carpenter, who replaces Luca Filippi in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevy on the 2.5-mile oval, driving for the first time since the 2014 season finale at Fontana.

“It’s always a little extra work when you add Indy‑only efforts,” said Carpenter, who has won the Indy 500 pole two years in a row. “For a team like us, you’ve got to bring in people that are just going to be working for you for a month, so integrating them into what we do and keeping things flowing can be a challenge, but for the most part it’s the same group that we had with J.R. last year, so that helps a lot.”

Carpenter said preparation for May has been more challenging this year due to getting ready for the new superspeedway aero kit, which makes its on-track debut Sunday in a test at IMS. It’s been “down to the wire” for CFH Racing to acquire parts for not just the test, but the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the Indy 500.

But don’t expect to see teams being conservative during the month in the build up to the 99th running of the race.

“It’s the Indianapolis 500, and there’s only one reason to be there, and that’s to try to win, and you can’t do that and be conservative,” Carpenter said. “As a driver you’re not thinking about those things, and even the team, when you get out on track.  But I don’t foresee there being a supply problem moving forward.  I think the biggest challenge is just getting everyone their initial orders and spare orders fulfilled, and from there they’ll start building up a bit of a buffer.”

Carpenter won’t be conservative in his first on-track action this season, which isn’t the first that Carpenter has only competed on ovals. He did so last year, earned his second Indy 500 pole in two years and won his third career IndyCar race, taking the checkered flag at Texas Motor Speedway. So rust shouldn’t be a problem for the owner-driver when he once again goes for the pole.

“When you get to that point you know you have a chance, you’re going for it,” Carpenter said. “We’ll wear the tires out in that 10‑mile run probably more so than we would in a full fuel load at race downforce, so you’re just really, really abusing the tires, sliding around a lot.

“I think it takes a lot of focus and a lot of commitment to make that pole run.  But it’s definitely challenging and stressful, but it’s also really satisfying when you get it right.”

Cadillac confirms WEC driver lineup with Chip Ganassi Racing that will race Le Mans in 2023

Cadillac Ganassi Le Mans
Cadillac Racing
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Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing announced their driver lineup for a 2023 entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the sports car series that includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Cadillac V-LMDh entry will be driven by Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn, who were teamed on the No. 02 Cadillac that competed in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi class this season and won the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The third driver will be Richard Westbrook, who will return to Ganassi after helping the team to a GT class win at Le Mans in 2018.

The team also will compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the rebranded Grand Touring Prototype premier category, which is designed for crossover between the top prototypes in IMSA and WEC. Ganassi will field a second entry at Daytona with its No. 01 Cadillac that will compete full time in IMSA with Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande.

A Ganassi spokesman said the team hopes to run its second entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans but only its WEC team is confirmed (an AOC invitation would be required for the IMSA team). The team also is exploring options but currently plans to have the WEC’s team base of operations in Indianapolis.

Ganassi is the first American-based prototype team to confirm its entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans. It’s expected that Team Penske, which raced this year’s Le Mans with a full-time WEC entry in LMP2, also will race Le Mans with Porsche’s new LMDh car that is set for IMSA, but the manufacturer has yet to confirm its driver and team lineup.

Next year will mark the return of Cadillac to Le Mans for the first time since 2002.

Before joining Ganassi last year, Lynn made 28 WEC starts since 2016, winning the LMGTE Pro class at Le Mans in 2020.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to continue with Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing,” Lynn said in a release. “It’s a huge honor to drive for Chip in any capacity but certainly on a full factory sports car program, it’s seriously cool. Cadillac has so much heritage as a luxury North American sports car brand, so to be able to represent them is a huge privilege. I’ve had a lot of fun in my first year doing it and to continue that onto the World Endurance Championship stage is fantastic.

“For me, returning to WEC is sort of what I’ve always known and it’s a bit like going into my wheelhouse. This year in IMSA was a bit different with getting to know all-new circuits and a new style of racing so 2023 will be filled with a bit more of what I’m used to with more of a European focus. I think what’s significant about WEC is without a doubt Le Mans. As a sports car race, Le Mans is the crown jewel and everything that we want to win. To be able to take Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac back to Le Mans to fight for overall honors is a huge honor and that’s something that I’m going to work tirelessly to make sure we achieve.”

Bamber won the Le Mans overall in 2015 and ’17 with Porsche teams and also was a 2019 GTLM champion in IMSA.

“I am really happy to continue at Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac,” Bamber said in a release. “I’ve loved my first season in DPi and now to continue over into the LMDh era and WEC is super exciting. Looking forward to fighting for a world championship and another Le Mans victory.

“The World Endurance Championships gives us the opportunity to race at the world’s biggest race, which is Le Mans, the crown jewel of sports car racing. I’ve been lucky enough to win it before and it’s obviously a huge goal for Cadillac and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing. To have that goal in sight is really exciting. It’s been great to have Alex as a teammate in 2022. We’ve been able to learn and grow together in the DPi, and we have a really good partnership going into WEC. We know each other really well and believe adding Richard will be a seamless transition.”

Said Westbrook: “After four really good years at Chip Ganassi Racing, I’ve got so many friends there and I’ve always dreamt to come back one day. It just worked so well between 2016 and 2019, and I’m delighted we found a route to come together again. I can’t wait, it’s an exciting era in sports car racing right now.

“I feel like I know Alex and Earl really well. I did Le Mans with Alex in 2020 and I’ve known him for years. It feels like I’m going back with an ex-teammate and exactly the same with Earl. Although I’ve never shared a car with Earl, we’ve always done the same sort of racing be it in WEC or in IMSA. We’ve had lots of battles, including this year in our dueling Cadillacs. We’ve always gotten along quite well, and I can say we’re going to have a great year together.”

The seven-race WEC season, which also includes a stop at Spa, will begin March 17 with the 1,000 Miles of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.