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Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Race Report

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Ed Carpenter, Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Race Report

Tom Blattler
Ed Carpenter Racing
March 25, 2012

Ed Carpenter
March 25th 2012 - It was shaping up to be a great debut for Ed Carpenter Racing and its team owner/driver Sunday in the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the season opener for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series.

For Carpenter, it had been a hectic winter for the only team owner/driver in the series as he constructed his new organization. The Butler University marketing graduate was anxious to return to the cockpit of his new No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet IndyCar machine today. The Indianapolis racer had qualified his new mount in the 24th starting position for Sunday’s 100-lap feature through Bayfront streets of the Florida city.

In Sunday’s Grand Prix, Carpenter fought the balance of his Fuzzy’s car in the early segments of the race before changes on the first pit stop helped the car’s handling. The team decided to make an early pit stop in an effort for a different race strategy from the leaders. It paid off as Carpenter moved as high as 13th by lap 40 and looked to be in position to possibly challenge for a top-ten finish.

However, on lap 46, Carpenter attempted to make his second pit stop and was hit from behind by eventual winner Helio Castroneves just before the entrance to pit lane. The contact spun Carpenter’s car. With the new hand clutch application on the DW12 Dallara, Ed was unable to catch the engine from stalling. Thus, Carpenter lost two laps before the Holmatro Safety Team could restart the Fuzzy’s car.

Despite the mishap, Carpenter enjoyed several quick laps in the second half of the race and recorded a 63.51-second lap, one of the top laps on lap 83. With just two and a half days of testing prior to the St. Petersburg event, Carpenter and his new team performed admirably in their initial outing in the IndyCar Series to finish 18th.

“I’m a little disappointed to come home 18th because we had good pace for a lot of race,” said Carpenter. “We were off on the balance in the first half of the race, but we made the car better with each stop. The last stint was very good and we set some pretty quick laps. It’s good to see a Chevy in victory lane today, but I can’t say I appreciated the way Helio (Castroneves) moved me out of the way when I was trying to get to the pits. Without doing much road racing last year, I think it was a good start for me. I felt we had a better car than 18th and it was the best car I have ever had at St. Pete. With the little track time we have had so far, I think this is a good start for us as a team. I think we found something we can improve on as the year goes on. I’m really proud of the team this weekend. I’m just disappointed we lost a couple of laps due to the spin because I felt we could have finished on the lead lap. It would have shown how we ran today. Overall, we know how we performed and the improvement we gained this weekend. Now, we gather ourselves and get ready for Barber next week.”

Ed Carpenter Racing travels to Barber Motorsports Park next week for the annual Grand Prix of Alabama set for 1 p.m. Sunday, April 1, and the 90-lap main event will be televised on the NBC Sports Network.

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