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Carpenter’s oval mastery has now spanned 3 different styles of races

Jun 9, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

98th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race-Qualifying Getty Images

Ed Carpenter now has three career Verizon IndyCar Series wins, all on ovals, and all in completely different styles of oval racing.

With the previous generation higher downforce, lower horsepower Dallara IR03 chassis, Carpenter took a surprise but popular first career win at Kentucky Speedway in 2011, edging Dario Franchitti on the bumpy 1.5-mile oval in what was IndyCar’s most recent race at that track.

Needing to manage the race in terms of tires, handling and downforce levels, Carpenter excelled once again at Fontana 2012 – the season finale victory that year was the first for his own team and removed him as just a “one-trick pony” as you were.

Fittingly, on a track where he’s wanted to break out for nearly a decade, Carpenter finally delivered Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway. This was again another “driver’s race” at TMS and one where Carpenter continued to prove his oval savvy and veteran mindset in knowing how to master the package for this race, even though he said there were no secrets.

Carpenter owes some of his success to his USAC roots. It took more than 10 years, but some of the skills learned and honed in Midgets, Sprint Cars and Silver Crown, particularly the latter, carried over to balance over the course of Saturday night’s 248-lap race at TMS.

“The Silver Crown races were great for learning how to manage tires,” Carpenter explained post-race Saturday night. “You’re running one set of tires, one tank of fuel for 100 miles, I think I learned more about patience and managing a car and dealing with something that’s not perfect all the time in the Silver Crown races, and those have kind of all gone away as far as pavement racing goes.”

He also expanded on the nerve-wracking nature of the final stint, when some teams opted to take tires and Carpenter had to hang on for the final three laps on old ones.

“On one hand I was nervous, just because I wasn’t sure what the right decision was for us to make,” he said. “It’s hard to pit, but we were pretty far into our tires, and you know new tires are going to be strong.

“It was a handful the last couple laps, but you get in that position I’ve got to make sure I bring it home for the guys because they did such a great job all night with the changes on the car during the race, the pit stops, I felt like it was our race to win.”

And win it he did. The pair of Carpenter and Mike Conway are the first pair to win a race in the same season in the same car since Bruno Junqueira and Oriol Servia in the No. 2 Newman/Haas Racing Lola-Cosworth in the 2005 Champ Car World Series season.

  1. midtec2005 - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:08 AM

    I thought this was a pretty interesting race. The tire degradation was a little too extreme though, they need to back that off some. But one thing it did was really separate the drivers, based on skill level. The cars were a complete handful and the creme definitely rose to the top. I thought it was really fun to watch, from that standpoint, despite the lack of action we have seen in past years. Too bad Marcos engine lasted something like 9 miles, or we may have had another exciting contender in the mix.

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