By Josh Farmer, Contributing Writer
Ed Carpenter is setting very pretty heading into the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.
On Sunday, the 37-year-old from Indianapolis, Indiana claimed his third Indy 500 pole with a four-lap average of 229.618 mph.
The 2018 universal aero kit proved in practice that it would produce a vastly different race compared to the last few years. The cars at the front of the pack should are able to race, but the deeper in dirty air the cars are, the harder it is to pass.
The driver of the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Premium Vodka Chevrolet admitted that while starting up front helps, it remains unclear whether he, or anyone else can jump ahead at the green flag.
“I don’t know that anyone is strong enough to do that,” said Carpenter, a 14-time Indy 500 starter. “If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen at the end of a pit sequence as guys are starting to struggle and have their tires go off.”
“It’s hard to tell in practice because you’ve got big packs running but you never know what tires people are on and people are coming out of the pits and joining again. It’s hard to tell how people’s tires are going off because we are all on different tires. The first stint of the race will give us a better indication of what the day is going to be like.”
ECR has shown strength turnaround this Month of May as regular teammate Spencer Pigot qualified sixth and Danica Patrick qualified seventh. Carpenter attributed the team’s pace partly to recruiting 2007 Indy 500 winning engineer Allen McDonald to the squad. McDonald joined the team at the beginning of the year after spending the last few years at Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports.
Carpenter noted that McDonald brought the right mix of expertise and chemistry to the team.
“Allen’s been a great addition to the team,” Carpenter said. “Allen had worked with Matt Barnes, our other engineer at Andretti earlier in their careers. Same thing with Tim Broyles, our team manager. Even though I hadn’t worked with Allen, a couple other key players on our team did and already had a comfort level. I think that made the transition into our team a lot easier. They really hit it off well, the way he operates and runs a car is really comforting for me just in how I like to process information and the routine that I go through.”
While Danica Patrick’s Indy 500 return is only for one race, Carpenter is bullish about her chances given their rapport and results throughout the month.
“Danica’s had a great month,” he said. “She’s come in and really integrated into our team quickly. She’s definitely for more than just a farewell race.
“She’s been working as hard as any of us to get better every day and she asks a lot out of us and every one of our drivers. I’ve really enjoyed working with her.”