During the first half of Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500, Ed Carpenter looked like he might be the man to beat. Leading a race-high 65 laps, most coming in the first half of the race, Carpenter’s No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet appeared to be the class of the field.
He never lost the lead on merit until after a Lap 73 restart, when Tony Kanaan passed him on the outside entering Turn 1, but Carpenter was able to remain in second for the remainder of that stint to stay in the lead group.
However, things took a turn during a sequence of pit stops that began on Lap 91, with Kanaan the first of the leaders to pit, and concluded on Lap 109 – several drivers had gone off strategy and extended the window for pit sequences in that stint.
It was during that stretch that Carpenter lost a position to Power, the Penske driver emerging ahead of him after their stops.
Carpenter never found his way back around Power from there, with Power becoming the dominant driver in the second half of the race.
A late restart with seven laps remaining put Carpenter on the gearbox of Power as they ran fourth and fifth – behind Oriol Servia, Stefan Wilson, and Jack Harvey – but Power got the jump and was able to pass Servia one lap later, while Carpenter was stuck behind them.
And by the time Wilson, Harvey, and Servia all pitted for splashes of fuel, Power was long gone, leaving Carpenter to settle for second.
Carpenter was unsurprisingly gracious in defeat afterward, highlighting that the ECR team did everything they needed to do to give him a chance at the win, but explained that things ultimately just didn’t turn in their favor.
“The team really did a great job all month long, all day long really,” Carpenter asserted. “Pit stops were really good. It was almost like being out front early probably hurt us a little bit just because guys started saving fuel a little earlier. We got behind on the fuel save. Whatever segment Will got by us, (he) went a couple laps further, my out lap we had traffic. One of those exchanges.”
Carpenter also detailed that, as expected, track position proved critical, and that he just couldn’t get the lead back once he lost it.
“Track position was everything we thought it was going to be coming into the day. You heard the drivers talk all week. Just couldn’t quite get (the lead) back from (Power).”
Carpenter’s next race will be in two weeks in the DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway.