In what may be a move that could make the #20 Chevrolet-powered Fuzzy’s-sponsored IndyCar a formidable team in 2014, car owner Ed Carpenter has replaced Ed Carpenter the driver (source: AP). Next season, Carpenter will share his seat with street and road course ace Mike Conway who will race at 12 events for the two-year old Ed Carpenter Racing. Carpenter will continue to compete at the circle track races – six events in all.
Good and bad
The 32 year old Carpenter finished only 16th in points this past season; plus, he’s never finished higher than 12th during his decade-long career in IndyCar. Ed has had an ongoing problem with road and street courses, having never attained the ability to turn left and right with any consistency. However, his oval prowess is on par with any of the top competitors in IndyCar.
For instance, Carpenter won the pole position for 2013’s Indy 500. He finished fourth twice this year at circle tracks – first at Texas and then at Iowa. He also finished runner-up at the season-ending race at Fontana this year, averaging seventh place in the six oval events for 2013. Yet, when it came to street and road courses, Carpenter continued to struggle mightily with his best finish a 13th at Toronto.
The 30 year old Conway swore off circle track racing after not one but two hellacious wrecks during his career in IndyCar: both times at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The first time in 2010, he cracked his vertebrae and broke a leg on the final lap. In 2012, midway through the race, he lost control and flew into the catch-fence which ended his day. From that time on, Conway has said he would no longer run ovals – somewhat understandable considering his bad luck.
Yet, Mike has done a marvelous job when on a street or road course. This season, running just seven events this year, Conway had a win and a third at Detroit and finished in the Top 10 five times.
So combining the guy that does really well turning left and right with another guy that gets around an oval fast should make for a terrific race team that could win multiple events in 2014.
Tough to step out
The move is huge for many reasons but may signal the end of Ed Carpenter as a regular IndyCar driver. Having the gumption to take himself out of the cockpit of his own racecar certainly should be heralded as an unusual move and one that puts his team before himself, which is not easy when you’re only 32 years old. The business decision may be in part to keep his sponsor Fuzzy Zoeller happy but regardless, this pairing should work well.
Additional sources: Racing Reference, IndyCar