IndyCar: Ed Carpenter Racing 2018 Review

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Editor’s note: MotorSportsTalk continues to review how each organization in the IndyCar Series performed in 2018 and also takes a look ahead to 2019.

Thus far we have featured Juncos RacingMeyer Shank RacingCarlin Racing, Harding Racing, AJ Foyt Racing, Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan and Dale Coyne Racing.

Today we feature Ed Carpenter Racing. 

Ed Carpenter Racing 2018 IndyCar Review

Ed Carpenter Racing endured an up and down 2018 season. Ed Carpenter scored a pole at the Indianapolis 500 and then finished second, but he wasn’t much of a factor on the other ovals.

Jordan King made the Firestone Fast Six in his IndyCar Series debut on the streets of St. Petersburg, but he failed to finish inside the top 10 in any of his 11 starts. And Spencer Pigot had finishes of second at Iowa Speedway and fourth at Portland International Raceway, but languished in 14th in the standings at season’s end with nine finishes of 15th or worse.

Regardless, Ed Carpenter’s small team is a heavy fan favorite, especially at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and they have all the potential to be title contenders…if the consistency is found.

Spencer Pigot

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Team: Ed Carpenter Racing, No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet
Years in IndyCar: 3
Career wins and podiums: 0 wins, 1 podium, 2 top fives, 8 top 10s
2018 final standing: 14th
2018 final stats: 17 starts, 1 podium, 2 top fives, 5 top 10s
2018 best race finish: 2nd (Iowa Speedway)

Spencer Pigot is one of the bright young stars of the sport and he continued to improve in 2018, taking his first top five finishes and his first podium finish. However, as previously described, nine finishes of 15th or worse hamstrung his efforts and prevented him from finishing higher in the standings.

With that said, 2018 was his best IndyCar season to date, and continued year-on-year progress for the 2015 Indy Lights champion.

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2019: Pigot, who returns to ECR in 2019, will look for more results like Iowa and Portland, and could even take aim at his first IndyCar win, while also trying to finish in the top 10 in the standings.

QUOTE (following his second-place effort at Iowa): “What a race. Right from the get-go, we had a good car based on how we were getting through traffic. As the stint went on I thought we just got stronger and stronger. To find our way up near the front there was a little unexpected to start the day, but I’m really proud of everyone at Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet – I mean they gave me a great car. We didn’t have a great day yesterday, but everyone kept their heads down and kept pushing and we’re on the podium. I’m very excited and very proud of everyone here at the team. (On his first Verizon IndyCar Series podium finish). It feels great. My first podium in INDYCAR, hopefully, the first of many. What a tough race. It was really physical out there. It was hot and a lot of hard racing, so many close moments, but so much fun racing here in Iowa.”

Ed Carpenter

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Team: Ed Carpenter Racing, No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet
Years in IndyCar: 16
Career wins and podiums: 3 wins, 8 podiums
2018 final standing: 20th
2018 final stats: 6 starts, 1 pole, 1 podium, 1 top five, 4 top 10s
2018 best race finish: 2nd (Indianapolis 500)

The highlight of Ed Carpenter’s season came at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where he scored his third pole in the “500.” He then had one of the fastest cars in the race, finishing second to eventual winner Will Power.

However, the other five races in Carpenter’s season left a little to be desired. Though he scored three other top 10s, he failed to win a race for the fourth year in a row.

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2019: Carpenter will look to end his winless streak and take an elusive Indy 500 victory.

QUOTE (following his second-place effort at the Indy 500): “I’ll feel pretty good about this in a couple days, I think. The team really did a great job all month long, all day long, really. 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. 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 it back from him. We were saving fuel through the middle part of the race when everyone was essentially trying to cut out a stop. That was a little odd. You never know how these races are going to unfold. I thought for the most part the team executed well. I thought there’s only a couple little things that I can reflect on in the short term right now that maybe could have made a difference. All in all, I thought Will (Power) won the race and we ended up second, and we’ll be happy with that. We’ll come back stronger next year.”

Jordan King

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Team: Ed Carpenter Racing, No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet
Years in IndyCar: 2
Career wins and podiums: 0 wins, 0 podiums
2018 final standing: 22nd
2018 final stats: 11 starts, 0 podiums, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
2018 best race finish: 11th (Toronto)

Jordan King showed a lot of promise. He made the Fast Six in St. Petersburg and ran inside the top five at Portland. However, results just never came for the British driver and he failed to score a top 10 despite the strong pace.

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2019: Assuming he returns to ECR, he’ll look for his first top 10 and to become a regular front runner on the road and street courses.

QUOTE (following Sonoma, where he finished 13th): “The first couple of laps were uneventful really. I kind of wanted something to happen, but nothing really did. It was really kind of follow-the-leader, which was a bit rubbish. I managed to get past (Max) Chilton, which then kind of started my race really. I was able to catch the group in front of me, but I was still down at the back of the field. We were on blacks (Firestone primary tires), everyone else was on reds (Firestone alternate tires). We short-stopped the first stint and managed to jump a load of people. We had a really good couple of stints on red (tires) to gain track position and made it up to midfield. It was tricky at that restart, we almost crashed into about six people. There was so much going on. There’s a couple of war wounds on the car but it was good fun. It was one of those races where you had to dig deep into your box of magic tricks and work out how to drive fast but save fuel, save tires but overtake people, save fuel but not get overtaken. I enjoyed my last few hours of the season! Finishing 13th doesn’t look great but considering where had had to come from, the very back around a circuit that’s hard to overtake, we did a pretty good job.”


Alex Palou wins Detroit Grand Prix from pole


DETROIT – Alex Palou won the IndyCar Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix from the pole, fending off several challenges and three late restarts during a chaotic debut for a new downtown track.

After qualifying first, Palou won by 1.1843 seconds in his No. 10 Dallara-Honda over Will Power, followed by Felix Rosenqvist, Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi.

Kyle Kirkwood (who rebounded from falling to 26th in a massive shunt on the first lap) finished sixth, followed by Scott McLaughlin, Marcus Armstrong, Marcus Ericsson and Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden to round out the top 10.

As expected, there was lots of action on the nine-turn, 1.645-mile layout that made its debut Sunday with seven caution flags chewing up 32 of 100 laps – and eliminating some contenders.

With 20 laps remaining, Romain Grosjean slammed the wall in Turn 4 while running seventh in his No. 28 Dallara-Honda, which had started third. He later attributed the problem to a suspension failure.

Pato O’Ward’s shot at a decent finish fell apart during a green-flag pit stop on Lap 35. The No. 5 Dallara-Chevy’s left rear wheel was loose as O’Ward left the stall, so he stopped to allow the crew to push him back.

He returned in 26th at the end of the lead lap but then slammed the wall in Turn 9 eight laps later after overshooting the corner.

“Honestly our race went upside down on that pit stop,” O’Ward said. “All downhill from there. It is what it is.”

The yellow flew again during the next restart on Lap 49 as Sting Ray Robb went into the tire barrier in Turn 3 while Christian Lundgaard and Santino Ferrucci (who was trying to fight back onto the lead lap) also were caught scrambling in traffic.

During the caution, Graham Rahal hit the Turn 1 wall and then was rear-ended by rookie Benjamin Pedersen.

“I got a lot of understeer,” Rahal said, struggling to process what had happened to lose control of his No. 15 Dallara-Honda. “It’s on me. I need to see the tape and understand. I’m just disappointed in myself with all the errors this weekend, just not driving well. It’s hard to figure out why, but ultimately it’s on me. I’ve got to perform a heck of a lot better than that, especially on a day like this.

“It’s just not typical of me. I know you’ve got to stay on the dance floor. I don’t know what to say. We weren’t good in the race. We were in pretty bad shape. It’s disappointing. I’ve got to be better. It’s been a really tough couple of months. We need a reset. I need a reset. We need to come back much, much stronger.”

The first incident occurred in the first corner as Callum Ilott rear-ended Kyle Kirkwood on the entry into the Turn 3 hairpin (starts and restarts for the race occurred on the longest straightaway off Turn 2).

Kirkwood, who was starting after clipping the wall in qualifying, was able to continue after pitting to change the rear wing of his No. 27 Dallara-Honda.

But Ilott’s day was over after failing to complete a lap.

“I didn’t have anywhere to really go, but it was my bad for kind of being a little bit on the late side,” the Juncos Hollinger Racing driver told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee. “I was gaining bit of time, and they just checked up a little bit more than I anticipated the last bit. I wasn’t coming with that much more speed, but I just couldn’t slow it down on the last part, so sorry to the team and sorry to Kyle cause that didn’t help him, either. On to the next one.”

After four consecutive weeks of racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and on the streets of Detroit, IndyCar will take a one-week break before returning June 18 at Road America.