(AP Photo)

IndyCar Media Day Roundup: Ed Carpenter

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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.”

Supercross points leader Eli Tomac finds silver linings in interruption

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Though his Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship charge was put on hold, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had a silver lining for Eli Tomac.

Off the road while the season was postponed for nearly three months, the points leader was able to be present as his girlfriend, Jessica, gave birth to their daughter, Lev, on April 26

“A huge blessing for us there,” Tomac told host Mike Tirico during a “Lunch Talk Live” interview (click on the video above) in which he also joked about becoming a pro at busting off diaper changes. “That was one good blessing for us as we had our daughter on a Sunday, that would have been on a travel day coming back from the race in Las Vegas.


“That was probably the only positive out of all this mess was being able to be there for the birth.”

But there also could be more good fortune for Tomac as the series resumes Sunday at Salt Lake City, Utah (3-4 p.m. ET on NBCSN, 4-6 p.m. on NBC).

The final seven events will be held over 22 days in Rice-Eccles Stadium, which sits at just over 4,000 feet.

The elevation could favor Tomac, who was born and lives in Colorado and is accustomed to riding and training at altitude, which is a departure for many Supercross riders (many of whom hail from California and Florida).

COVID-19 TESTING REQUIRED: Supercross outlines protocols for last seven races

“That’s going to be the test for us,” said the Kawasaki rider, who five of the first 10 races this season. “We’re at elevation in Salt Lake, so when you’re on a motorcycle, you have a little bit of a loss of power. That’s just what happens when you come up in elevation. And a lot of guys train at sea level, and we’re at 4,000 to 5,000 feet, so cardio-wise, we’ll be pushed to the limit.

“Most of our races are Saturday nights and back to back weeks, but this go around it’s Sunday and Wednesday, so recovery is going to be key.”

Supercross will race Sunday and Wednesday for the next three weeks, capping the season with the June 21 finale, which also will be shown on NBCSN from 3-4:30 p.m. ET and NBC from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.

Tomac, who holds a three-point lead over Ken Roczen (who also recently visited “Lunch Talk Live”), told Tirico he had been riding for 90 minutes Thursday morning on a track outside Salt Lake City.

“Most of us we can rely on our past riding pretty well,” Tomac said. “The question is if you can go the distance. That’s what a lot of guys have to train on is going the distance. We go 20 minutes plus a lap. That’s what you’ve got to keep sharp is your general muscles. Within two to three days, your brain starts warming up more if you take a few weeks off the motorcycle.”

Here is the schedule and TV information for the rest of the season:

  • Sunday, May 31 (3-4 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4-6 p.m. ET, NBC);
  • Wednesday, June 3 ( 10:00 pm – 1:00 am ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 7 (5-8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 10 (7–10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 14 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 17 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 21 (3-4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET, NBC).
Eli Tomac rides his No. 3 Kawasaki in the Feb. 29 race at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia (Charles Mitchell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).