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ECR Ready for a Break after 10-Week Stretch; Pocono Next

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Ed Carpenter, Pocono IndyCar 400

ECR Ready for a Break after 10-Week Stretch; Pocono Next

Tom Blattler
Ed Carpenter Racing
June 27, 2013

Ed Carpenter
June 27th 2013 - INDIANAPOLIS – The crew at Ed Carpenter Racing were moving a bit slower Wednesday at the team headquarters.

The ten-week stretch of the IZOD IndyCar Series which included races at Long Beach, Brazil, Indy, Detroit, Texas, Milwaukee, Iowa and testing at Pocono could have been the reason for that slow motion.

But the ECR bunch is back at the race shop Thursday with a new hop in their step. The upcoming three-day weekend will give the 20-person squad some time to regroup before it heads to Pocono next Wednesday for the 11th race on the 19-event IndyCar Series.

"It has been a challenge for us and all of the teams,” said Tim Broyles, ECR team manager. "It might have been a little harder on the smaller teams too. We don’t have the resources of the bigger teams who have stay-at-home employees. They have shop-based people and can move some folks around to assist on other cars if they have an increased work load. But I think our guys have done a great job during this stretch as far as prepping the race cars. We have had great reliability on the mechanical side. We have managed this stretch pretty well. Everyone is pretty worn down right now though. So the weekend will be good for us.”

Broyles explained that the IndyCar Series teams experience different challenges than the NASCAR operations which are used to many consecutive weekends.

"NASCAR teams are setup much different with multiple cars for Superspeedways, short track, road course and other configurations,” said Broyles. "They have big fleets of cars. We have just two chassis for all of our events that include superspeedway, short ovals, street circuits and natural terrain courses and we take those cars to every event. So we come back from each event and have to turn cars around with the different setups. Fortunately, this year we haven’t had to do many road courses to oval setups so far. It is quite a bit of work to switch the cars around for the next weekend. We have to change suspension conversions, aero packages and we have a primary speedway car and our primary road course car. Then you are swapping an engine from one car to the other. That’s because we are only allowed to carry one engine at a time. So there is a bit of added work and time for a change over. There is extra work to change the two cars all of the time as opposed to having a fleet of cars in NASCAR.”

Team owner/driver Ed Carpenter has been proud of his one-car team’s determination during the stretch that saw on-track action in nine of the last ten weekends as well as packing for the international trip to Brazil. "I’m very proud how our guys handled this stretch,” said Carpenter, the 2013 Indy 500 pole winner. "People forget the long days at Indy too. We went straight from Brazil right into three weeks of running at Indy. Then four consecutive races and the Pocono test. I think everyone in the IndyCar Series is looking forward to an off weekend. But some others are racing elsewhere too. I'll be happy to spend time with my wife Heather and our three kids finally.”

ECR was fortunate in the ten-week stretch that repairs of its No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet were minimal.

"It would definitely put you behind the eight ball if you had some crashes in the ten-week stretch,” explained Broyles. "Potentially, we wouldn’t go to a race with a full staff and possibly a back-up car. You would have some staff on different travel schedules to catch up. We have been fortunate in this stretch. We had the one little incident at Detroit. We were able to recover from that pretty quickly. There wasn’t a huge amount of damage luckily. It is gotten to the point where it is hard to keep fresh paint on the cars right now. We have been on two-day ‘turnarounds’ with the cars for several weeks. May was actually easier on everyone because we were sleeping in our own beds every night.”

Broyles says that there have conversations with INDYCAR about switching up the schedule for 2014 in attempting to give the crews a break.

"We have talked with INDYCAR about it and it would be something I think they are looking at overall,” he said. "They are working with all of the aspects that come into play like the TV partners and the track promoters to put together the best package overall for the series. They are looking to have our series in the public eye as much as possible and get as much coverage as possible. It’s the same for everybody right now, but it is challenging. Having a weekend off for our team does give everyone a chance to recharge. We will give our guys a three-day weekend this weekend. Hopefully they can spend some time with their families. They can get a breather since we have two more weeks after this with Pocono’s superspeedway race and the doubleheader at Toronto.”

Broyles does admit that the doubleheader weekends do put some stress on the teams as well.

"It’s a lot of extra stress on the guys and Ed is more tired after two straight races on one weekend,” Broyles said. "You are doing pit stops on both days and you are exposed to potential crashed cars that need to be fixed. It’s even more important to be more organized and have you spares in order and your back-up ready. Even though it doesn’t have an engine in it, you must have your spare car in the top of the transporter ready to roll out if needed. Plus you carry extra spares around too. We were fortunate at Detroit it wasn’t worse. But it is definitely more wear and tear on the team. "

Carpenter and his ECR/Fuzzy’s team were pleased with the recent Pocono test, and the crew learned a lot about the challenges posed by the three-turn "Tricky Triangle” 2.5-mile oval.

"Turn 1 (at Pocono) is a beast in the IndyCar,” said the only owner/driver in the IndyCar Series. "It's going to be a fun corner to drive in the race and I think the fans will enjoy watching it. It's definitely different than any place I've ever been to. We were trying to compare it to places we've been in the past and it reminds me of Phoenix a little bit. It's its own animal."

The Pocono 400 fueled by Sunoco is set for July 7 beginning at 12:15 p.m. EDT. The first IndyCar race at Pocono since 1989 will be televised live on ABC-TV.

The Pocono 400 will be the second event in the three-race Fuzzy’s "Triple Crown” as Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan still has a chance to a win $1 million. If Kanaan can win Indy, Pocono and Fontana races this year, Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka will present him with a $1 million check. If Tony wins two of the three races, he received $250,000 from Fuzzy’s.

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