Ed Carpenter, the native hoosier who was in contention for this year’s Indy 500 till a late race incident ended his chances, came to Texas Motor Speedway with a chip on his shoulder, he is leaving with the winner’s trophy.
The Firestone 600 had it all this year, massive tire degradation, multiple engine failures, crashes and a late race yellow leading to a bit of controversy. After two years of getting the DW12 aero package wrong for the high banks of TMS, IndyCar got it right this year, the 300 pounds of additional downforce allowing the cars to run each other close, but not dangerously so like the pack racing of old. Will Power and Juan Pablo Montoya in their talkative and comedic press conference both commented on IndyCar getting the aero right, “It was the perfect amount of downforce right there.” said Power. “I don’t know what to compare it to, but it was freaking awesome! It was fun.” said Montoya who was visibly ecstatic despite his frustration with Carpenter who he claimed jumped the late race restart by 300 yards.
I think there’s got to be a clear-cut penalty that if you go before the cones, you’ve got to get a penalty…but he jumped it because he knew they were never going to wave it off because if you wave it off, the race is over. Fun times.
– Montoya in regards to IndyCar’s new restart acceleration zone policy
For his part, Carpenter saw the situation quite differently, when I asked him about it, Carpenter was very pointed in his response,
He was lagging back…You’re not supposed to lag back, we talked about that in the driver’s meeting. He ended up finishing third anyway, right, so it doesn’t matter.
– Ed Carpenter in response to Montoya
The drama began early, Marco Andretti charged from 17th to 9th on the opening lap and looked to be a major factor until his engine let go and caught fire on lap 5, like that Andretti was out. The yellow flag came out, Montoya, Sato, Bourdais and Hawksworth all took to the pits. The race was green again by lap 11 with Power leading Kanaan. The duo pulled away from the field and ran one-two for over 40 laps at which point they already began to come upon traffic. Hincliffe perhaps a little on edge after seeing his Andretti Autosport team mate out by lap 5, had a nerve racking race, complaining of massive tire degradation. Power pit on lap 56 promoting team mate Montoya into the lead, the first laps for him to lead at Texas since his 2010 NASCAR appearance at the track. By lap 61 the green flag pit stops had cycled through and Power was back in the lead. Power seemed to have his set up nailed and was easily the fastest, most stable car on track all night. Russian Rookie Mikhail Aleshin made fantastic strides early in the race, unafraid to run side by side or go for the pass, taking to ovals in a fashion that reminds one of Nigel Mansell in his CART debut.
I learned so much tonight at Texas Motor Speedway. The team did a great hob giving me a fast car and our pit stops were strong. I hear many experienced drivers say that as soon as you think you’re used to an oval, it will bite you. With that in mind, I know I’m not used to this type of racing. But I’m starting to get it.
– Aleshin, in the understatement of the evening
Midway through the race Bourdais squeezed Wilson onto the apron coming out of turn 4, the Brit lost it and collected the Frenchman as he spun up into the outside wall. While both men escaped unscathed, Wilson was visibly vehement with Bourdais, who later said he would apologize if the replay showed him to be at fault. Heartbreak also befell championship contender Ryan Hunter-Reay for the third race in a row, when his Honda engine let go.
The car just lost power all of the sudden, then we had an oil pressure alarm, I tried to go down on the apron because I thought we were maybe spilling oil everywhere…We had made a change on that last stop and I thought that would bring us into the game. We were running seventh and still had a shot at it. It was a long night and we needed the points most of all, so really disappointed for the DHL team.
– RHR, who has yet to complete an entire race distance since his Indy 500 victory
The pits opened on lap 126 all the leaders came in and Power won the drag race down pit lane to resume the lead of the race. Four laps later Munoz spun going into the pits, but was able to continue. The race went green on lap 134 and lead till 182 when he was held up by traffic and Carpenter made the move on the outside going into turn 3. The leaders pit on lap 213 when Power got caught speeding in pit lane, the subsequent penalty looked set to doom his race but Power fought back through the field. Ahead of him Montoya put the move on Kanaan to take second, Carpenter lead the field by 16.5 seconds by lap 240 when Takuma Sato’s engine caught fire and brought out the final caution of the day. With three laps remaining the green flag flew once more, Power made it past Montoya on the final lap, but no once could answer Carpenter’s pace as he claimed a popular victory.
I have loved this track for a really long time and had a lot of bad luck here. I have always really wanted to win here so I’m super excited.
– Ed Carpenter on winning the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway
After two years of struggling IndyCar has finally got it right at Texas. The longtime staple of the modern series is poised to once again shine with the same luster it used to enjoy. Montoya summed it up best,
I’ll tell you the truth, I haven’t had this much fun in a long time.
– Juan Pablo Montoya
Finishing second ensures Power retains his championship lead going into the next race, at Houston on June 28th. Carpenter became the 6th different winner in 8 races this year, highlighting just how competitive IndyCar is at the moment.
Here are the unofficial results for the 2014 Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway
1. #20 Ed Carpenter, Ed Carpenter Racing
2. #12 Will Power, Team Penske
3. #2 Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske
4. #77 Simon Pagenaud, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
5. #9 Scott Dixon, Ganassi Racing
6. #10 Tony Kanaan, Ganassi Racing
7. #8 Ryan Briscoe, Ganassi Racing
8. #83 Charlie Kimball, Ganassi Racing
9. #7 Mikhail Aleshin, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
10. #3 Helio Castroneves, Team Penske
11. #67 Josef Newgarden, Sarah Fisher Hartman
12. #15 Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan
13. #34 Carlos Munoz, Andretti Autosport
14. #17 Sebastian Saavedra, KV AFS Racing
15. #27 James Hinchcliffe, Andretti Autosport
16. #98 Jack Hawksworth, BHA BBM
17. #18 Carlos Huertas, Dale Coyne Racing
18. #14 Takuma Sato, AJ Foyt Racing
19. #28 Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport
20. #11 Sebastien Bourdais, KVSH Racing
21. #19 Justin Wilson, Dale Coyne Racing
22. #25 Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport
Image: IndyCar Media