On Sunday afternoon, Ed Carpenter became only the 11th driver in history to secure back-to-back pole positions for the Indianapolis 500. But whereas last year's pole position was celebrated by Carpenter's eponymous, this year the repeat success had a somewhat more low-key reception from the team.

That's because they know all too well that starting from pole is no indicator of race success. Last year, Carpenter ended up finishing in tenth position at the end of the 500-mile, 200-lap race and this year he's determined to do much better. That means that the hard work is far from over: in fact it's only just begun.

"It's awesome to win another pole," said Carpenter. "Winning the pole last year, I think we have a better idea for me and Heather and the whole team how to be prepared for it, how to manage the week, how to manage our time. Hopefully we'll be better prepared next Sunday.

"It's exciting, but after going through this last year and not winning the race I've been so much more determined. I think the whole team has to really figure out what we need to do next Sunday and that remains true.

"I'm looking forward to practice [on Monday]," he continued. "We have to have one more day of practice tomorrow getting ready for the race. I feel good about where our cars are in race trim [but] you can always use one more solid day of practice just to tune on things, get a little better, make sure both myself and [team mate] JR [Hildebrand] are happy.

Carpenter insisted that he had no idea going into the weekend's qualifying session whether he would be able to repeat last year's pole-winning form.

"I get extremely paranoid the week before practice here. I feel like every year coming in I have this giant fear we're going to be really slow and really struggle," he said.

"I thought it was harder [this year}, he added. "It was just a different position because when I made my run last year, we didn't really have anything to lose. This year, being the last guy to go out, I think there was a little more pressure to not mess it up.

"I felt like going out that we had the speed to do that from where we were from yesterday to today with the different conditions. I felt like as long as we didn't mess it up, we were going to be able to win the pole," he explained. "That's a different kind of pressure. But it was a more stressful run for me, for sure.

"I was low in four the last lap, but the car had been sliding so much, I was trying to give myself as much room as I could to make it through there without lifting because I was running out of room leading up to that. I was just using every inch of asphalt I could."

The weather had certainly played a factor, with Sunday afternoon - when Carpenter and the other drivers in the Fast 9 pole shootout got to run their qualifying laps - significantly sunnier and warmer than anything in the past few days when rain, wind and unseasonably cold conditions had dominated.

"It was hard, the conditions changed a lot," Carpenter agreed. "It's a beautiful day but the track temp is probably as high as we've seen since Sunday last week. So that made for a challenge for everyone because no one was as trimmed out last Sunday.

"I think you saw a lot of guys with more inconsistent runs," he pointed out. "I think, in part, that's due to temperatures. Everyone's going for it. It's fast nine so guys are laying it all out there. My team did a great job preparing the car and they gave me just the right level of downforce just like they did last year. I must have some smart guys working behind me.

"Just really blessed to have a lot of great people behind me on the team and partners of the team with Fuzzy's and Chevrolet and Preferred Freezers that's now onboard. All their hard work and dedication are what make weekends like this possible."

Now there's a week before the big race itself, although as pole winner Ed Carpenter will have a heavy media schedule promoting the event - not that he's complaining.

"It's all worthwhile being able to be in positions like this at the Speedway in the Indianapolis 500," said Carpenter. "It's what we have this team for. It's what I get paid to do. This is what we're supposed to do for our sponsors and the team.

"It's a lot of fun. My family is here to enjoy it with me. All of them are here this year. Hopefully we'll close out the month better than what we did last year."


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