Ed Carpenter Racing left Phoenix International Raceway hopeful with both cars near the top of the speed chart.
Newgarden was third fastest overall in the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevy (19.2917 seconds, 190.714 mph), with Carpenter close behind in fourth (19.3316, 190.321) driving the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevy. The team co-owner/driver didn’t hide his pleasure with the improvement in the team’s oval performance.
“It’s encouraging, for sure, when you look at where we were on the ovals a year ago starting the season,” Carpenter said. “It’s really encouraging to see the effort that the team’s put in to really improve. And not just our team, but the team at Chevrolet with their updates on the aero kit, too.”
Newgarden and Carpenter joined forces in 2015 at CFH Racing. While Newgarden enjoyed a breakout season with two wins and a seventh-place finish in the championship, Carpenter drove only on the ovals with just one top-10 start and two top-10 finishes in six events.
With an offseason to regroup and the team reverting to the Ed Carpenter Racing name, the chemistry is building.
“I’ve got a great relationship with Ed,” Newgarden said. “It was great to start working with him last year and it’s just gotten better over the offseason. We’ve really been able to work on a lot of different aspects of the team side, the car side, what we’re doing driving-wise.
“We have a great, really fluid relationship. He’s been open about his information, same with me. I think we work really well together. He’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever had.”