Ed Carpenter Ready To Tackle Texas In Third ECR Car

Ed Carpenter makes his season debut this weekend at Texas where he won in 2014.
Ed Carpenter Ready To Tackle Texas In Third ECR Car

A familiar face is making his season debut this weekend in an unfamiliar number. After taking in the season-opening race at St Petersburg from pit lane, team owner Ed Carpenter puts his helmet back on this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. The veteran oval ace is one of 27 cars entered in today's XPEL 375 as his team field's a third car for the race.

Carpenter joins his two full-time drivers, Rinus VeeKay and Conor Daly, as they take on the first oval race of the season. The 41-year old has not run a full season since 2013 and has traditionally shared the No. 20 entry with a driver that would only compete on the road and street courses. With Daly now in that No. 20 seat for every race weekend this year, Carpenter will instead run just the oval races in the No. 33 Chevrolet.

It is the perfect number for Carpenter, as the sole focus in his career has been winning the Indianapolis 500. In 18 starts at Indy, Carpenter has won pole position three times and has started 2nd on two other occasions. Last year he started 4th and finished 5th but his career-best finish came in 2018 when he led 65 laps and finished runner-up to Will Power.

The last seven years have been somewhat disappointing for the Butler graduate. Carpenter has just one pole and two podium finishes in his 38 starts since the 2014 season. He failed to finish in 15 of those 38 races.

Ed Carpenter Ready To Tackle Texas In Third ECR Car

With the fresh slate to start this season, Carpenter has his sights set on positive energy at Texas, and hopes that the team can carry momentum into the Month of May.

There are still three races between Texas and the Indy 500 but none of those are oval events. That doesn't necessarily mean that Carpenter won't be in the car until then, as there is an open test on April 20-21 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Teams and drivers will get their first taste of the IMS oval in one month, and ECR will once again be heavy favorites.

Daly and VeeKay dominated the early stages of the race last year, leading 72 of the 200 laps. Carpenter himself was able to rebound from a pit stop issue to finish just 1.24 seconds behind race winner Helio Castroneves.

Even though the team has entered three cars in the Indy 500 many times, today will mark the first time they have expanded to three entries outside of their home race. While Daly struggled in St Pete, his teammate in the No. 21 car had a great weekend, qualifying in 4th position and finishing 6th in the race.

Texas is where VeeKay made his debut in 2020, when he won Rookie of the Year honors. He finished 9th in the second race here last year, and is eager to get back on the 1.5-mile oval. “I am really excited to head back to Texas. We had a great test there last week and I feel like we are in a very good place with the car." The Dutch driver qualified 8th yesterday to lead the team.

Daly is also thrilled to be back on the oval, where he finished 6th in 2020. “I don’t think I’ve ever felt as confident heading into the Texas weekend as I do now. It was great to test there last week and I was very, very happy with the BitNile Chevy. It feels like we have a good amount of information from the test from Rinus and I. We’ll have Ed in the car this weekend as well, so that will help even more. The more information we can gather, the better.” Daly rolls off in 16th position today.

When it comes to experience at Texas, Carpenter is at the top of the list. With the exception of 2010, he has competed in every race here since 2003. Qualifying 21st, this will be his 22nd start at Texas. Carpenter won here in 2014 after leading 66 of the last 67 laps.

“I am excited to get back to Texas. It’s always fun going to a track you’ve won at before and a place you’ve been successful, hopefully we can repeat that this year. I feel really good about the work the team got accomplished last week, though it would have been nice to have participated in the test myself. But, as a part-timer, I have to pick and choose what I do. I am ready to get going and excited to have a race in the No. 33 and get back in the groove before we get to Indianapolis."

Despite being a part-time driver, Carpenter has earned at least one top-five finish in each of the last four seasons. His team hopes to continue that streak this weekend, but the ultimate goal remains getting a cold glass of milk in May.

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