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


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.”

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans

LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.