Ed Carpenter was back in the race seat of the #20 car for the first time since the Indianapolis 500 in May, a race that had started so well for him with a strong pole position but which then ended in the wall after being taken out by contact with James Hinchliffe.
So did rebounding from that unfortunate event and claiming his third Verizon IndyCar Series win in Saturday night's Firestone 600 go someway to making up for the disappointment at Indy? Not really, admitted Carpenter.
"Nothing really totally makes up for a missed opportunity at the speedway, but at the same time it always feels good to win, especially at a place like this," said Carpenter in victory lane.
"There's no denying the fact that I was really mad after Indy," he continued. "It's not that I'm still mad at Hinch, but I'm still mad at the situation and that we lost an opportunity. I want to try to win every session, every race that we go to, whether I'm driving or Mike [Conway] is driving. We're just going to try to keep the intensity up and try to keep fighting for wins.
"It's just good to bounce back," he added. "I've enjoyed coming to this racetrack for a long time and appreciate the job that Eddie [Gossage, track owner] does here for our series and the drivers. This is a big win for us."
It's Ed Carpenter Racing's second win of the season after Mike Conway won in the #20 at Long Beach, and Carpenter was quick to give credit to the team as a whole.
"I'm really proud of the team - two wins already this year," he said. "It's a good year. All the credit goes to these guys. Awesome pit stops they give Mike Conway and I.
"I knew we had a good car. We had a good test here back a couple of weeks ago or a couple of months ago whenever it was. I just felt like we left some on the table in qualifying, but it made me extra motivated for tonight.
"The first two stints weren't great," he added. "Had one bad stint, but the guys just made great adjustments all night. The Fuzzy's car was hooked up by the end. I think we were for sure the car to beat at the end."
The late caution for Takuma Sato's engine blowing up left him worrying about whether to surrender his lead in order to pit for fresh tyres or not, knowing that either way there was a bullseye painted on the back of his car for the other five cars still on the lead lap to aim at for the final two lap sprint.
"I was a little worried about that last yellow," he conceded. "I knew guys were going to come in. We talked about what we would do in that situation and we were kind of undecided."
Finally the call was to stay out, and only Will Power and Simon Pagenaud decided to duck onto pit lane for fresh tyres. While Power made a surge past the rest of the cars at the restart he didn't have enough time to make in-roads into Carpenter's half-second lead, much to the race winner's relief.
"I'm guessing probably many more laps left than what we were going to have, we probably would have had to have pit," Carpenter mused. "It was a handful the last couple laps, but you get in that position I've got to make sure I bring it home for the guys because they did such a great job all night with the changes on the car during the race, the pit stops, I felt like it was our race to win."
"When I crossed the line I was just trying to get every bit of speed out of my car as I could the last couple laps. I felt okay about it after the first lap because I got a big enough gap on Montoya on the restart.
"It's hard to say how many laps it would have taken for Will [to challenge for the lead]," Carpenter added. "Certainly new tyres are a pretty big advantage when we were about 30 some laps into mine. They definitely drop off quite a bit right around the halfway point. Certainly wouldn't have been able to hold him off much longer, but there were only four laps to go, three to go when we took the start, so the guys made the right call."
Carpenter won't be back in the race seat again now for a month, with Conway returning for the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston doubleheader event at the end of June in the meantime. Carpenter admitted that it was hard work staying race-ready in the meantime.
"I work hard all year‑round, I train in my office and in the shop every day," he explained. "No one had run an oval since Fontana, and we'd tested as much as anyone [and] I'll be testing twice this week, so just because you're not in a car doesn't mean you can't be prepared.
"I'm engaged with the team every day. I don't feel I'm missing anything. I mean, I'd like to run more races always, but I'm happy to run the ones I am and want to make the most of it," he said. "Every time we get in the car I feel like Mike and I both have a chance to win right now with the job the team is doing for us.
"It's a great team to be a part of. We have a lot of fun - and it's even more fun when you're winning!"