The Inside Line: Carpenter 'determined' to win Indy 500

 

The Sports Network

(SportsNetwork.com) - Ed Carpenter is an Indianapolis native, a graduate of Butler University and now a two-time Indianapolis 500 pole winner.

Carpenter also won the inaugural Indy Lights race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2003.

But the one thing he would love to do the most in his hometown is win the Indianapolis 500 -- one of the most prestigious automobile races in the world.

On Sunday, Carpenter claimed the Indy 500 pole for the second year in a row after posting a four-lap average speed of 231.067 mph. Carpenter, the driver/owner of the No. 20 car, edged James Hinchcliffe from Andretti Autosport for the top starting position. Hinchcliffe held the provisional pole after he averaged 230.839 mph.

"I knew what the pole was going into my run, and I got my lap times when I crossed the start/finish line every lap, so I saw on the third lap that I dropped to a 230.8 (mph), which was kind of right at the limit," Carpenter said. "I changed my gear strategy on the last lap to maintain and not slide anymore. Basically, I think I duplicated my third lap on the last lap. Once I saw we didn't drop below that number, I thought we would be good. It's hard to do math at 230."

Carpenter finished 10th in the 2013 Indy 500 despite leading the most laps with 37. He was disappointed with the result. But Carpenter has high expectations for next Sunday's 500-mile race. After capturing the pole, he said that he is "much more determined" to win it this time.

Tony Kanaan won last year's race, which featured a record 68 lead changes among 14 drivers and moved at a blistering pace of 187.433 mph. It was the first time Kanaan had won it in 12 attempts.

Carpenter, at age 33, will make his 11th start in the Indy 500.

"So looking forward to it," he said. "I think we have a better idea for me and the whole team how to be prepared for it, how to manage the week, how to manage our time. Hopefully, we'll be better prepared next Sunday."

On Monday, Carpenter made a total of 49 laps during Indy 500 practice. His best lap was clocked at 224.492 mph, which placed him 20th on the charts. Josef Newgarden was quickest at 227.105 mph.

Final practice, a one-hour session known as "Carb Day," is scheduled for Friday. There is no practice on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.

Carpenter is the stepson of Tony George, the former president and CEO of IMS and founder of the Indy Racing League (now known as INDYCAR). George also co- owned Vision Racing, a team that Carpenter served as primary driver from 2005-09.

In 2012, Carpenter started his own team, Ed Carpenter Racing. The team claimed its first win that year when he took the checkered flag in the season finale in Fontana, California. It was Carpenter's second career and most recent IndyCar victory. His first win in the series came in October 2011 at Kentucky, driving an entry for Sarah Fisher Racing. He beat Dario Franchitti at the finish line by only 0.0098 seconds.

This year, Carpenter is sharing driving duties with Mike Conway in the No. 20. Carpenter is competing on the oval tracks only, while Conway is scheduled for all road/street course races. Indianapolis is the first oval event this season.

It's been seven months since Carpenter has run in an IndyCar race. He finished second to Will Power in Fontana.

"No one has raced an oval since I raced Fontana last year," Carpenter said. "I don't feel like I'm missing much. Oval racing and road and street courses are different. The cars are different. We tested as much as I think anyone outside of doing the tire test here (at Indianapolis) at the end of last year. I think that's the only test we missed as far as oval testing.

"I didn't feel lacking or unprepared. I prepare the same now as I did when I was racing full-time. So much of it here I think is mental and in the preparation. We were prepared."

Carpenter's best finish in the Indy 500 is fifth, which came in 2008. He placed eighth in it the following year.

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