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 

IndyCar releases schedule for 2023 season

IndyCar schedule 2023
Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NTT IndyCar Series’ 2023 schedule will feature the same number of races and tracks as this season with some minor reshuffling of dates.

IndyCar will open the 2023 season March 5 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, and will conclude Sept. 10 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. The 107th Indy 500 will take place May 28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 17-race schedule will conclude with a stretch of eight races in the final nine weeks.

“The NTT IndyCar Series is on an impactful upward trajectory, making progress at a pace that befits our thrilling style of competition,” Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “The 2023 season provides an opportunity to further build on this trend, bringing our sport and its stars to more markets and households and reaching new consumers across the globe.”

There will be 15 events on NBC: 13 races (including six of the final seven) plus Indy 500 qualifying May 20-21. There also are three races on USA Network and the Toronto race exclusively on Peacock. All races on NBC and USA also will have live simulstreams on Peacock.

In partnership with NBC Sports, the 2022 IndyCar season was the most-watched in six years and the most-watched across NBC Sports on record. The 2022 season also was the most streamed season on record.

“We’re very excited for our 2023 NTT IndyCar Series schedule and to build on this past season’s viewership milestones,” NBC Sports vice president of programming Mike Perman said in a release. “In providing comprehensive coverage across NBC, Peacock and USA Network, NBC Sports is once again looking forward to telling the stories of these world-class drivers and this compelling series.”

Notable elements on the 2023 schedule:

–There will be the same balance of seven road course races, five street courses and five ovals.

–St. Pete will be the season opener for the 13th time.

–The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix will move from Belle Isle to the streets of downtown.

–The NASCAR doubleheader weekend at the IMS road course will shift to mid-August.

–The World Wide Technology Raceway event will move from Saturday to Sunday.

Start times for the 2023 events will be announced at a later date.

Here’s the 2023 IndyCar schedule:

Date Race/Track Network/Platform
Sun., March 5 Streets of St. Petersburg NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 2 Texas Motor Speedway NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 16 Streets of Long Beach NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 30 Barber Motorsports Park NBC, Peacock
Sat., May 13 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) NBC, Peacock
Sun., May 28 The 107th Indianapolis 500 NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 4 Streets of Detroit NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 18 Road America USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 2 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 16 Streets of Toronto Peacock
Sat., July 22 Iowa Speedway – Race 1 NBC, Peacock
Sun., July 23 Iowa Speedway – Race 2 NBC, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 6 Streets of Nashville NBC, Peacock
Sat., Aug. 12 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) USA Network, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 27 World Wide Technology Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 3 Portland International Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 10 WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca NBC, Peacock

*dates and networks/platforms are subject to change