By Josh Farmer, Contributing Journalist
Ed Carpenter was disappointed, but optimistic after securing a second-place finish in the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.
The 37-year-old Hoosier led a race-high 65 laps but ultimately came up 3.15 seconds shy of Team Penske’s Will Power when the checkered flag flew. The result was bittersweet, but a few worth celebrating.
“At the end of the day we had a chance to go fight one of the best teams and drivers for the 500,” he said. “It’s something I’m proud of. I’ll probably feel better about it in a couple days.”
The driver of the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet had one of the dominant cars through the race’s opening 250 miles, but he lost the lead to Power on the pit stop exchange on the third round of pitstops near the halfway point.
Carpenter remained one of the front-runners as yellow flags changed strategies up front and shuffled the leaderboard, but found himself behind Power and Scott Dixon with 10 to go as the caution flew for Tony Kanaan’s crash in turn 14.
Carpenter lined up sixth on the restart behind Power and Dixon while Oriol Servia led Stefan Wilson and Jack Harvey on an alternate strategy.
Carpenter disposed of Dixon and a sinking Servia, and found himself in second on lap 195 whenWilson and Harvey dove to pit road simultaneously. But despite having no traffic between them, Carpenter proved unable to mount a charge for the win.
His second-place finish was Carpenter’s best Verizon IndyCar Series result since his win at Texas Motor Speedway in 2014, and was his career-best finish in the Indy 500.
While he was saddened with the result, he found solace in the fact that he had a career best day at on the sport’s biggest stage and it gave his team a much-needed boost heading into the season’s second half.
“I think when I look back on this month, that’s probably where I’ll feel really good about it,” he said. “We were strong just about every day, with all our cars, held that level of consistency and performance through the month.”
“Hopefully this will be a springboard for the team to jump into the back half of the season, have Spencer finally break through with some results. Jordan just needs to catch a break. He’s been in a good spot, too. Hopefully this is going to be a springboard for the team to help the team make some strong finishes, win some races.
In a case of sportsmanship, the three-time Verizon IndyCar Series race winner tipped his hat to Power.
“I’m really happy for him,” he said. “I know how hard he worked to figure out how to be better on ovals, because he just flat out didn’t like them at first. He turned a weakness into a strength. He’ll make a great champion.”