IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Ed Carpenter

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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series field, driver-by-driver. Next up is Ed Carpenter, who had a tough season behind the wheel even though he had a generally good season as team co-owner of CFH Racing.

Ed Carpenter, No. 20 CFH Racing Chevrolet

  • 2014: 22nd Place (6 Starts), 1 Win, 1 Pole, 2 Podiums, 3 Top-5, 4 Top-10, 122 Laps Led, 8.3 Avg. Start, 9.7 Avg. Finish
  • 2015: 27th Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 6th, Best Start 4th, o Top-5, 2 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 14.2 Avg. Start, 17.8 Avg. Finish

IndyCar’s primary oval specialist had a year to forget from the driver role, but it was balanced out at least with some good results in his team co-owner role. One sixth place finish was all Carpenter had to show for his six starts, and even that – like his other races – could well have been higher had it not been for other extenuating circumstances.

In truth, things got off to a horrible start for Carpenter in the month of May. First teammate Josef Newgarden, then Carpenter himself had awful looking, although fortunately injury-free flying accidents within a matter of days before qualifying. Carpenter was justifiably livid when he exited his own No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet and not long after was when INDYCAR determined it would qualify the cars with race boost and higher downforce levels.

His first three races of the year produced three nightmares in three different ways. First was his contact with Oriol Servia in the Indianapolis 500. Next came Texas where both cars were out to lunch on setup. The nadir came at Fontana when the two teammates crashed into each other, with Carpenter’s spotter Lee Bentham having made an error up top and not alerting Carpenter to Newgarden’s presence on his outside exiting Turn 4.

Things were slightly salvaged with a near last-to-10th run at Milwaukee and then his best drive of the year by far, a near-podium at Iowa before his infamous battle with Sage Karam. Another DNF at Pocono however left Carpenter mired in 27th in the final standings.

The best races for Carpenter in 2015 came when he was outside the cockpit. Newgarden won twice and at the latter event in Toronto, Carpenter’s road course fill-in Luca Filippi came second to complete CFH Racing’s first 1-2 finish. Carpenter also had a front row seat to the two races Newgarden led a combined 220 laps – Milwaukee and Iowa.

There were a lot of factors to consider about Carpenter’s season, the major one being that the offseason required the merging and fusion of separate single-car entities – Ed Carpenter Racing and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing – into the combined CFH Racing program. The performance from CFH on the whole in 2015 was very stout; they were easily the second or third best Chevrolet team on a consistent basis, and Newgarden in particular was the biggest driver thorn in the Penske/Ganassi side. Ed the driver will seek to rebound in 2016; Ed the co-owner has managed to keep his star teammate for another year; and Ed the co-owner of CFH will have a full offseason to grow rather than merge as they did last year.