Ed Carpenter: driver criticism of IndyCar ‘confusing for fans’

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With one tweet Saturday afternoon, Ed Carpenter made it clear he wasn’t on the side of Will Power and Tony Kanaan when it came to the controversial style of racing at Auto Club Speedway.

Said the driver and co-owner of Carpenter Fisher Hartman Racing:

Later, Mario Andretti, Jack Hawksworth and Ryan Briscoe, the latter of whom was involved in a violent crash to end the race, also said the “pack racing” was exciting.

But it was Carpenter, in his dual role as driver-owner that has been the most vocal, expanding on his thought to WTHR 13 columnist Bob Kravitz.

Carpenter explained his biggest issue is how Power and Kanaan’s opinions are received and interpreted by fans.

“We’re never going to be able to grow the sport if we’re tearing it apart from the inside out,” Carpenter told Kravitz.

“I’m not saying any of those guys shouldn’t have an opinion after that race. We’re all entitled to an opinion but how you deliver that message is the important thing. You don’t need to deliver it to the fans first…

“Someone wrote to me on Twitter, ‘I spent three hours watching that race and enjoying every minutes of it, but I struggled listening to drivers that I love saying they hated it.’ That’s confusing for fans.”

Carpenter’s own experience backs up his tweet. Carpenter doesn’t compete in road course races.

In 2014, he hired Mike Conway, a driver who swore off ovals incidentally at ACS back in 2012 after multiple bad crashes over a four-year period, to compete on street courses in his place. In 2015, it’s Luca Filippi filling Conway’s stead.

“My mentality on what we do is, it’s all dangerous,” Carpenter said. “And that’s part of my frustration. Any time I get in a car, I know it might be my last day. There’s no guarantees in what we do, ever.

“That’s what frustrates me, some drivers who think the only way we’re going to get hurt is in some kind of pack racing. To me, that’s ridiculous.

“Dario (Franchitti’s) career was ended on a street course, not a pack race. Dan (Wheldon) died in a pack race. Plenty of others have died on road courses. Tony Renna died at the Speedway and he was the only car on the track. What we do is dangerous. So for me, I’m okay with that. This is what I want to do.”

Franchitti himself tweeted about the driver complaints, trying to put them in context with their relationship with IndyCar’s leadership.

But as with Power’s comments, the core of the argument goes back to the death of Dan Wheldon at Las Vegas in 2011.

“Everybody has had strong opinions since Vegas,” Carpenter told Kravitz. “People have said to me I’m disrespecting Dan’s death by saying what I’m saying, and I think that’s ridiculous in my eyes.

“Dan was one of the best ambassadors this sport has ever had, and he wouldn’t be a guy making disparaging comments about a race, which is more disrespectful, the way I look at it.”

Andretti ‘getting closer’ to re-signing Alexander Rossi in IndyCar

INDYCAR Photo by Joe Skibinski
INDYCAR Photo by Joe Skibinski
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TORONTO – Team owner Michael Andretti told NBCSports.com that contract negotiations with both Alexander Rossi and Honda Performance Development are progressing positively with hopes of reaching a conclusion “within the next week or two.”

Andretti spoke to NBCSports.com and to NBCN’s Robin Miller Sunday at the Honda Indy Toronto.

“I think things are getting there,” Andretti said. “We’re not there yet, but we’re close. I can’t comment, but I think things are going in the right direction.

“Honda has been great. They’ve been really good to work with. I’m hoping we can put something together there, too. We’ve been part of Honda for so long. I think we are getting real close there.

“I’m hoping to have this resolved in the next week or two.”

Rossi, who is in the final year of his contract, finished third in the race, one position ahead of championship rival Josef Newgarden of Team Penske.

That leaves Rossi just four points behind Newgarden heading into Saturday night’s race at Iowa Speedway.

Rossi’s agent is his father, Pieter.

NBCSports.com spoke to Pieter Rossi before the race, and he also expressed optimism that a deal will be reached soon for his son as the star driver, 27, enters the prime years of his career.

Andretti had separate meetings with Honda Performance Development officials and with Pieter Rossi in the hours leading up to Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto.