INDIANAPOLIS — This is the sixth of a 12-part series of comprehensive team previews as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES prepares for the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg set for March 13-15 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla.
The preview series features each of the full-time teams as well as teams running a partial schedule that includes the season-opening race. Today’s featured organization: Ed Carpenter Racing.
Coming Sunday: DragonSpeed and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.
The season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network on Sunday, March 15. The pre-race show begins at 2:30 p.m. ET with the green flag scheduled for 3:30 p.m.
Starting Lineup: Ed Carpenter (No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, oval tracks only); Rinus VeeKay (No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet); Conor Daly (No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet, road/street circuits, will switch car numbers for Indianapolis 500).
2019 Recap: Carpenter, the driver, didn’t have the season he wanted in 2019, but he still qualified on the front row for the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge for the third consecutive year and finished sixth in the race. He also finished sixth at Pocono Raceway and fell just a few feet short of his fourth career victory in the race at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway (Takuma Sato edged him by 0.0399 of a second). The team qualified three cars in the top four at Indy. Spencer Pigot finished 14th in points in the No. 21 car and produced two top-five finishes; Ed Jones finished 20th in the No. 20 car with a top-10 finish (sixth in the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course). Daly wasn’t with ECR last year; he competed in seven races for three different teams, finishing 10th in the Indianapolis 500 for Andretti Autosport and sixth at WWT Raceway for Carlin. VeeKay finished second in the Indy Lights standings with six race wins.
What’s New for 2020: VeeKay and Daly join the driver list, replacing Pigot and Jones, respectively. All key crew members remain the same, proof of the team’s continuity.
Keep An Eye On This: VeeKay is certainly one to watch this season. He has been fast at every level of his career and finished second to Oliver Askew in the Indy Lights championship last season. VeeKay accumulated 16 race wins in the Road to Indy program over the past three years: three wins in USF2000 in 2017, seven wins in Indy Pro 2000 in 2018 and six wins in Indy Lights last year.
Season Outlook: ECR’s cars finished 14th and 15th in entrant points last year, and those results should improve in 2020. Daly has his most stable ride since 2017 and is positioned for a breakout season. Could this be the year Carpenter reaches victory lane in the Indianapolis 500? In the past three years, his average starting position (1.6) is unmatched, and he has finished 11th, second and sixth, respectively. Could this also be the year ECR wins its first race since Josef Newgarden won at Iowa Speedway in 2016? This season definitely is full of promise.
“A Different Breed” Notable: Carpenter has proven to be one of the fastest drivers in Indianapolis 500 history, one of only 10 drivers to have won at least three poles in the event. Only four drivers (Rick Mears with six, Rex Mays, A.J. Foyt and Helio Castroneves with four) have been the fastest qualifier more often than Carpenter.
Owner’s Take: “Number one on our list of goals every year is to be competitive at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and put ourselves in a position to compete for an Indy 500 victory. Beyond that, we’re really looking forward to getting back to winning races. I’m excited about the team this year, excited for Rinus VeeKay’s potential and excited to finally get Conor Daly in an ECR car.” – Ed Carpenter