By Christopher DeHarde, IndyCar & Road to Indy Writer
Years in IndyCar: 14
Laps led: 305
2017 Team: Ed Carpenter Racing
Ed Carpenter is looking for an improved 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series oval campaign.
With a background in oval track driving, Carpenter scaled his full-time IndyCar commitments back to just ovals in 2014 and allowed a road racing driver to take over on the road and street courses.
Since making that decision, the driver of the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet has had feast or famine luck with wins at Auto Club Speedway in 2012 and at the Texas Motor Speedway in 2014.
The lone owner/driver in the series had a less than stellar 2016 campaign with only one finish of 18th at Iowa Speedway.
Accidents eliminated him from Phoenix and Texas while mechanical failures did him in at the 100th Indianapolis 500 and Pocono. His full-time driver Josef Newgarden scored a dominating win at Iowa and ended the season fourth place in the standings.
After the 2016 season concluded, the team lost both the No. 21 car’s driver and engineer. Newgarden went to Team Penske and engineer Jeremy Milless went to Andretti Autosport to work with Alexander Rossi. To replace Milless, ECR hired Justin Taylor, an engineer from the now-defunct Audi LMP1 program, to oversee IndyCar returnee JR Hildebrand’s ride.
The 2013 and 2014 Indianapolis 500 pole winner will be sharing the No. 20 car with Spencer Pigot, who returns to the seat after racing the last half of the season in that ride.
Carpenter and Hildebrand got their 2017 campaigns off on the right foot at the ‘Prix-View’ at the Phoenix International Raceway two weekends ago.
The pair put down the quickest laps in track history over the course of the two-day test.
With a strong start already in the books, Carpenter has something good to work with before he gets back in the car at Phoenix in April.