IndyCar’s Ed Carpenter watching NASCAR’s scheduling moves with interest


Ed Carpenter Racing has become the “Hometown Team” in the NTT IndyCar Series because of his deep roots in the Indianapolis community.

IndyCar’s only owner/driver in the series, said Friday he is keeping an eye on NASCAR’s return to action to help prepare his team for IndyCar’s return.

The 2020 NTT IndyCar Series is scheduled to return to action June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway.

NASCAR might return to action without spectators in mid-May. That would make it the first big-time racing series to return to competition since the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) shutdown began the weekend of March 13.

Carpenter said he is watching NASCAR’s potential return to action with interest in hopes that IndyCar can follow shortly thereafter.

“I think everyone is watching that,” Carpenter said. “Beyond that, I think one of the great things that we’ve seen in motorsports is I think everyone is really working together and communicating. Everyone is trying to do the right things not only for our sports, teams, businesses, employees, fan bases, the world. I know there’s a lot of communication going on from what I’m included in. There’s a lot of collaboration.

“I know there’s a lot of work being put into all the different scenarios of when and how we can go racing, what that’s going to look like, what the steps are. We’re all doing what we can do and following the guidelines from our federal government, our local government, and working with them to figure out how to best bring our sport back to life.

“I know we’ll be watching NASCAR. I know the IndyCar guys are in communication with NASCAR. A lot of the promoters are the same promoters. We’re all working together to try to understand how to do this, how to do it the right way to not only bring our racing back to the fans that want to see it but also do it in a safe way to where we’re not going to create new issues during this pandemic.”

The Butler University graduate has built a pretty formidable operation. He is a three-time Indianapolis 500 pole-winner. Carpenter finished second to Will Power in the 102ndIndianapolis 500 in 2018 and sixth last year.

Carpenter continues as the team’s oval driver in the No. 20 Chevrolet with 28-year-old Conor Daly of Noblesville, Indiana driving that entry on the street and road courses. Rookie Rinus VeeKay is the driver of the team’s No. 21 Chevrolet.

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Ed Carpenter Racing is one of IndyCar’s mid-level teams. ECR doesn’t have the resources of a Team Penske, Chip Ganassi Racing or an Andretti Autosport, but it remains highly competitive.

Carpenter has been able to keep the operation stable during the COVID-19 shutdown.

“I don’t know the toll has been any harder for us than any other team,” Carpenter said Friday. “We are a team sport even though the drivers are out in front of everything a lot. We race six months of the year, but we’re together 12 months of the year.

“I would say the hardest thing is just not being with one another, being separated. Just like all of humanity, there’s a ton of anxiety during this entire time.

“I think for myself and other members, the management of the team, just trying to be there for our employees and reassure them, make sure we can find ways to continue to provide for them is my No. 1 priority right now, that when we can get back to work, everyone is in a very good position to do so.”

Carpenter is known for his mild-mannered personality. That ability to keep everything on an even-keel has been important for Carpenter during this massive time of uncertainty.

“It has been I think stressful for all of us, but I’m pleased with the way our people are responding,” Carpenter said. “The work they are doing behind the scenes that we can do right now virtually and from home, is important. I know that everyone is chomping at the bit to get back.

“It’s for sure been a challenge I think more than anything just dealing with the anxiety of when we can get back to work, when are we going to go racing, not being able to leave home.”

Carpenter estimated his team would need only a week or a week and a half to prepare once IndyCar teams return to action. The season currently is slated to begin June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway.

“I really don’t think it will take that long to get us going,” he said. “The stuff came back from (the postponed opener at) St. Pete and got unloaded. Really haven’t touched anything since then. Kept everyone on board.

“When we can get back to work, which we’re hoping is sooner than later, I don’t see the Texas date being an issue for us to be ready for.”

Carpenter also indicated the team is solidly behind Rinus VeeKay’s rookie season effort in 2020. He wants to give the rookie from The Netherlands a full season of action to evaluate his talent for the future.

“My excitement level for Rinus is still very high,” Carpenter said. “He is an extremely talented young man. It is going to be a hard year to be a rookie. With all likelihood we’re going to not have testing or highly reduced testing. Some race events can be shortened as far as the amount of practice time, et cetera.

“I think talented guys, are able to get up to speed quickly. That’s one of the things that he impressed us with when we first tested him the first couple times. It was how quickly he was able to adapt not only to the car but a track that he hadn’t been doing in IndyCar. Or a track he hadn’t been to, at all, was really able to get up to speed quickly.

“There are going to be some challenges having a rookie in an abbreviated season like we’re going to be in. I believe he’ll be up to the challenge. We’ll be able to do some other things as a team to support him, help nurture him through that progress.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500 

Chase Sexton wins Triple Crown Anaheim 2 Supercross: Levi Kitchen unseats Jett Lawrence in 250s

Supercross Anaheim 2
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

Chase Sexton won two of the three races in the Monster Energy Supercross Anaheim 2 Triple Crown, which was enough to overcome a fifth-place finish in Race 2 and give him the overall victory. It was the second Supercross win of his career.

“Super big night for me,” Sexton told NBC Sports’ Will Christien. “After last weekend with that being a struggle, I just need to come out here and stop the bleeding a little bit and I did that tonight.”

Sexton suffered a crash on Lap 1 of his heat, sending him into Last Chance Qualifier. The bad gate pick put him in a difficult position to start the race and he was able to climb to only fifth at the checkers.

At Anaheim 2, three riders entered the final race of the Triple Crown in a winner-take-all scenario. Sexton, Jason Anderson and Eli Tomac each had a shot at victory. It raised the intensity level for all riders in an evening that featured a lot of comers and goers.

Jason Anderson took the early lead in Race 3, which set him up for the overall victory. Sexton stalked and passed him midway through the race and then a minor mistake late allowed Webb to slip around as well. Anderson’s 5-1-3 gave him second overall.

“I had a tough couple of rounds, getting off that Anaheim 1 crash and then last week weekend I fumbled a little bit, but I’m excited to get back on the box and start moving forward,” Anderson told Jason Thomas.

Anderson finished seventh in the first two rounds of 2023.

RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 Main in Anaheim 2

Ken Roczen was the model of consistency in the opening rounds and at Anaheim 2. In three races so far this year, he’s gotten progressively better each time with a fifth in A1, a fourth last week in San Deigo and a third this week.

With results of 2-3-4, he earned his first podium of the season, which lands him fourth in the standings.

“This was hard earned,” Roczen said after the race. “I completely botched the start and then to have to work my way up. I only happen on the very last lap to step up here on the podium.”

Webb’s solid second-place finish in the third race allowed him to leapfrog several riders and finish fourth overall, but a seventh in Race 1 kept him off the podium. He improved in each race in Anaheim, however, with a 7-4-2.

With a 4-6-5, Dylan Ferrandis rounded out the top five.

The intensity of the race was a little too much for Tomac.

While battling side-by-side with Webb in Race 3 at the one-third mark, Tomac jumped wide and crashed hard. He fell to 14th, doing some damage to his bike in the process. He advanced only one position in that race to 13th. His first two races, a third and second, were strong enough to give him sixth overall. He retains the points lead, but it has shrunk to a gap of only four over Sexton and Webb.

Malcolm Stewart injured late in the week and was not able to mount.

Levi Kitchen became the first rider to unseat Jett Lawrence in the Triple Crown format at Anaheim 2 and won the overall with consistency. In his three races, Kitchen finished 4-2-2 to narrowly edge the winner of the first two races.

“This whole day; this is unbelievable. I took a few good slams in practice and I was down on myself,” Kitchen told NBC Sports Jason Thomas afterward. “The first moto I got a good start and got shuffled back, then I knew I just needed to be consistent.”

Jett Lawrence saved his best for last – which wasn’t hard given the struggles he experienced in the first two races.

Despite those problems, he entered Race 3 of the Triple Crown three points behind Kitchen after suffering a pair of disappointing races by his personal measuring stick. In the first and second 250 races of the night, Lawrence hit the ground. He dropped to the final rider in the running order in Race 2 with a Lap 1 fall. But in both races, he was able to overcome his mistake and close the gap so that he had a chance to take his first Triple Crown win of his career.

Click here for full 250 West Main Results

Lawrence rode to third in Race 1 and sixth in Race 2. In the final race of the night, Lawrence did all he could. He earned the holeshot, but when Kitchen fell in behind him, Lawrence’s fate was sealed. His 3-6-1 tied him in points with Stilez Robertson, but the tiebreaker goes to the final round and his win secured second-place.

“I can definitely say Triple Crowns are not my thing,” Lawrence told NBC Sports Will Christien. “We have one more to try and fix this, so hopefully we can get that done.”

Lawrence will move into the 450 class for the Lucas Oil Motocross outdoor season and his 250 record book will be closed.

The best news for Lawrence is the other riders who entered this round in the top three had a worse night, so Lawrence leaves Anaheim with a 16-point gap on Cameron McAdoo and 17 over RJ Hampshire.

Roberston finished 6-1-3 to take the final step of the podium.

“Getting that win in the second Main meant a lot,” Roberston told Thomas. “I wish I could have done a little better in the third one, but we’re still up here on the box.”

Mitchell Oldenburg used consistency to earn fourth in the overall. He finished 5-4-6.

After missing the Main last week in San Diego, Max Vohland finished 7-8-4 to round out the top five.

RJ Hampshire set himself up as the early favorite with his Race 1 win. In Race 2, it all fell apart. He fell in the sand section and damaged his bike, finishing last in that race. The final event of the night for the 250s provided only a 13th-place finish, leaving Hampshire deep in the points.

Cameron McAdoo hard crash in qualification, which was scary news for a team that has seen three of their riders sidelined with injury. McAdoo was never quite able to get his rhythm with an 8-7-5.

2023 Race Recaps

San Diego: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time

Anaheim 2 coverage

Power Rankings Week 2
SuperMotocross tightens playoff schedule
Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence go two-for-two in San Diego
Results and points after San Diego
Seth Hammaker to miss 250 E season opener with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner with injury
Injury sidelines Austin Forkner for remainder of 2023 SX