Ed Carpenter, Ed Carpenter Racing - Q&A
19 May 2013
After claiming pole position for this year's Indy 500, team owner-driver Ed Carpenter spoke to the press and media at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
97th pole for the Indianapolis 500, Ed, I can't believe it.
Yeah, I told you in here after the first round I wasn't sure we'd be able to do a 229 and we did two of them, and that was the key in the shootout. A lot of fun. I knew we had a shot at it, but the field is so tight and Chevy brought such a great engine, and I wouldn't have been surprised if we were outside the top 10, too.
It's an honour to win this pole because it is a really competitive field.
This is a good start. I want to make sure we keep the team focused. I hope this is part one of a really magical month, and we're here for race day. This is awesome, and it's bigger than our wins and it's huge for the team, huge for Fuzzy's Vodka. It's definitely a landmark day, but I don't want to get overly focused on this because we have a lot of work to do yet.
Was there a different strategy for the second run than the first run? Did you worry about the first two laps more or something like that?
Well, in the first one I definitely took too hard of a warm up lap and started to use up the tires a little bit. It really came down to strategy on how much downforce we ran in the shootout. We don't run this time of day on the track. Normally we're off the track by 6, and when we finished the first round of qualifying we felt like we were too light on downforce and we were planning on putting some more on for the shootout, and then we were sitting there and started thinking about what the track is like at 6 every day when we finish, and doing the math on what time I would be going out around 6:45, so that's 45 minutes after we normally get done, and the track temp is going to be coming down. We chose to stay where we were in the first round. We really hardly changed the car at all.
And then the Penske cars appeared to get even more aggressive and take more downforce off, and I think that was a mistake. That's what we were hoping for going into it, that someone was going to overstep it. We didn't want to be too conservative, but we were hoping that someone was going to go too far. Luckily we had the speed in the Fuzzy's Vodka machine to be quicker than the Andretti cars, but it was an awesome shootout. It was fun. Chevy Shootout I think it's called this year, right?
You're carrying the banner for the open-wheel nation. I want to know from your standpoint what does the series have to do to attract more guys like yourself to have more open-wheel drivers in the series?
I wish there was an easy answer to that. This was always where I wanted to be, and I think a lot of guys still dream of coming here, but a lot of guys dream to go to NASCAR, too. There's easier avenues from USAC to NASCAR right now, and I hoped that was something that would change. Bryan Clauson got a chance here last year and did a good job, and he was out there for this year and a lot of people wanted us to put him in the second car. It just wasn't the right car, but I would certainly like to see more guys from USAC and where I came from doing it here because it's good preparation and it's great racing and great drivers. But I don't know what that answer is. I think I would have to start with more of them actually really wanting to do it and chasing it.
What goes through your mind on that fourth lap when you can see Will losing speed?
I kind of knew in the first lap to be honest after seeing what Helio and AJ had done I figured he would fall off too much to maintain the average that we had. But you never know, Penske has pulled out so many poles at this place that you can't count him out. After I saw Helio do his run and fall off the way he fell off, I felt like we were going to be in pretty good shape. I'm just really proud of the guys on the team for making the right call.
How far back does your memory of this place go? What do you first remember about it and did you ever allow yourself to dream of a moment like this?
You know, I've been in positions to qualify in the top 10, but this was my first year where we had a chance at pole and I thought and really believed we had a chance at pole. We were aggressive all day long and a little too aggressive in the first round, but to answer the first part of your question, I remember watching Rick Mears qualify here in '91 from the Turn 2 suites, and that's my first memory of qualifications here.
But I told the guys before our first segment today and before the shootout that I'd be much more mad if we went conservative and didn't take a shot at it than if we took a big shot at it and missed. They made the right calls. I'm really proud of them.
The fact that this place means so much to you might not mean anything when you're running that repeat run, but now that it's over and you've got it, do you let it sink in tonight maybe?
A little bit, but I love the race a whole lot more than qualifying, and I really want to send a message and make sure I lead by example to the team and make sure we don't forget why we're really here. This is fun and it's huge for our team. I don't want to think that it's not. But the pole won't mean much if we don't go out and perform on race day.
I love it here. I love racing here. I love going fast here. It's cool to see the speeds climbing again. But this track and race means a lot to the other 32 guys that are going to start the race, too. I don't think it's just special to me.
Talking about just how special it is, how much do you enjoy that the fans really embrace you as the local guy?
It's really fun. I've lived here since I was 8 years old, went to school at Butler University and probably will never leave. It gives me confidence knowing people are behind you, and I'm blessed to have a great family. A lot of them are here. Unfortunately my parents and sister are up in South Bend because Lauren graduates from Notre Dame tomorrow, which is awesome, so it's a big weekend for our whole family.
Transcript courtesy IndyCar. FastScripts by ASAP Sports.