IndyCar Media Day Roundup: Ed Carpenter

(AP Photo)

Ed Carpenter says the story behind the changing of Carpenter Fisher Hartman Racing’s name to simply Ed Carpenter Racing isn’t as big deal as one’s imagination would lead them to believe.

“Seems like big changes, but organizationally not huge internally,” Carpenter said during his availability at the Verizon IndyCar Series’ Media Day on Tuesday. “Seems dramatic, like there’s a whole lot going on.

“We changed names, but everything going on in the race shop, employees, preparation, plan, it’s been ongoing. Changing logos around. Key positions, management, structure, for the most part it’s the same.”

Those plans include running Josef Newgarden full-time in the No. 21 and Carpenter entering his fifth season serving in an owner-driver capacity in the No. 20 when the series competes on ovals. The 2013 and 2014 Indianapolis 500 pole winner said they want to run the No. 20 full-time, but that the team is “not there yet.”

When Carpenter wasn’t in the No. 20 on road courses and street courses in 2015, the job fell to Luca Filippi. The Italian driver’s best result was second at Toronto.

“We’re looking at all scenarios,” Carpenter said. “I talk to Luca and his management team frequently. I wouldn’t say that’s off the table. It’s trying to find the right deal and a deal that we all feel comfortable with.”

Carpenter also made note of JR Hildebrand, who competed for Carpenter in both Indianapolis races in 2015.

“Obviously, I talk to Hildebrand a lot and would like to get him more ingrained in our team,” Carpenter said. “Until things happen, we’re focused on what we’re going to be doing, which is running Josef for the full championship and running the 20 car on ovals.”

ECR will look to capitalize on Newgarden’s breakthrough season in 2015 as the 25-year old driver won his first two career races, at Birmingham and Toronto.

“As the season went on, he came into his own and was more consistent whether we were at a short oval, Speedway, road course, street court,” Carpenter said. “He had speed and raced well everywhere. At the end of the season at Sonoma, he was one of seven guys that were still eligible for the title.”

Newgarden finished the Grand Prix of Sonoma in 21st and ended the season seventh in points, just ahead of Tony Kanaan. His previous best result was 13th in 2014.

“That was really, I think, important for him to know that he can be in that discussion, be a part of that championship mix,” Carpenter said. “He is one of the few guys in the series that has the versatility as a driver and the pace on all circuits to be able to contend for a championship.”

Newgarden earned four podiums last season, with two of them coming on ovals at Iowa Speedway and Pocono Raceway in runner-up finishes. In his previous three seasons he only earned two podiums.

While Newgarden will start the season with the rest of his competitors on March 13 with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, his teammate and now sole boss in Carpenter will make his first start not in the Indianapolis 500, but at Phoenix International Raceway on April 2.

PIR is a track Carpenter spent a lot of time at growing up and first competed there in 1999.

“I was there for the last IndyCar race in 2005,” Carpenter said. “I have a lot of fond memories.

“I haven’t been back since they made some changes. We’ll be there testing on Monday. I’m excited to get reacclimated with the track.”

IndyCar disappointed by delay of video game but aiming to launch at start of 2024

IndyCar video game 2024

An IndyCar executive said there is “absolutely” disappointment that its long-awaited video game recently was delayed beyond its target date, but the series remains optimistic about the new title.

“Well, I don’t know how quick it will be, but the whole situation is important to us,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said during a news conference Monday morning to announce IndyCar’s NTT title sponsorship. “Motorsport Games has spent a lot of money, a lot of effort to create an IndyCar title. What we’ve seen of that effort, which is not completely obvious, is very reassuring.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding. That’s our shared objective, that when it is released, it’s just widely accepted. A great credit both to IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something that our fans love.”

In June 2021, IndyCar announced a new partnership with Motorsport Games to create and distribute an IndyCar video game for the PC and Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2023.

But during an earnings call last week, Motorsport Games said the IndyCar game had been delayed to 2024 to ensure high quality.

Somewhat compounding the delay is that IndyCar’s license for iRacing expired after the end of the 2022 season because of its exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games.

That’s resulted in significant changes for IndyCar on iRacing, which had provided a high-profile way for the series to stay visible during its 2020 shutdown from the pandemic. (Players still can race an unbranded car but don’t race on current IndyCar tracks, nor can they stream).

That’s helped ratchet up the attention on having a video game outlet for IndyCar.

“I wish we had an IndyCar title 10 years ago,” said Miles, who has been working with the organization since 2013. “We’ve been close, but we’ve had these I think speed bumps.”

IndyCar is hopeful the Motorsports Game edition will be ready at the start of 2024. Miles hinted that beta versions could be unveiled to reporters ahead of the time “to begin to show the progress in a narrow way to make sure we’ve got it right, to test the progress so that we’re ready when they’re ready.”

It’s been nearly 18 years since the release of the most recent IndyCar video game for console or PC.

“(We) better get it right,” Miles said. “It’s something we’re very close to and continue to think about what it is to make sure we get it over the line in due course.”