Ed Carpenter led a wild final practice at Texas Motor Speedway ahead of Saturday night’s Rainguard Water Sealers 600 (8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN).
Carpenter, who struggled somewhat in qualifying and will start 14th, turned a fast lap of 224.682 mph, and he was the only driver to break the 224 mph barrier. Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi, JR Hildebrand, and Simon Pagenaud completed the top five.
In what could be a preview of Saturday night’s race, the final practice saw close action throughout the 30-minute session.
A group consisting of as many as 15 cars ran together at one time, with several venturing into the outside lane to make passes. However, the session ran without incident, only stopping once for debris on the circuit.
Speeds continue to be significantly higher in comparison to last year. Carpenter’s best lap was nearly 11 mph faster than the quickest lap from last year’s final practice (Graham Rahal, 213.935 mph, conducted in June prior to the rainout) and just under 10 mph quicker than the quick lap from pre-race warmup for the August makeup date (Scott Dixon, 214.937 mph).
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Ed Carpenter Racing has signed 2019 Indy Lights runner-up Rinus VeeKay to drive the full 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, the team announced Wednesday.
VeeKay will drive the No. 21 Chevrolet previously occupied by Spencer Pigot.
“I’m so happy!” the 19-year-old driver from the Netherlands said in a press release. “It’s a dream come true and something we have worked extremely hard for over the last couple of years. To step up from USF2000 to the NTT IndyCar Series in three years is really special.”
In his maiden Indy Lights season this year, VeeKay collected six race victories and seven pole potions. VeeKay previously won the 2018 Indy Pro 2000 championship, and finished second in the 2017 USF2000 standings.
VeeKay’s success in the ladder series caught the attention of Carpenter, who gave VeeKay the opportunity to first test for the team at Portland International Raceway in August.
“I have been following Rinus’s path through the Road to Indy, especially the past two years,” Carpenter said. “It was clear to me that he deserves to be in an Indy car. After his first day in a car at Portland this past season, that feeling became even more apparent. His pace, feedback and demeanor inside the car was very impressive for such a young driver.”
As a driver, Carpenter will be VeeKay’s teammate during the five oval races in 2020, once again returning to the team’s No. 20 entry. An announcement on which driver will pilot the No. 20 on the road and street circuits will be made at a later time.
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