To say that the year has been rough on Ed Carpenter would be an understatement.
The native Hoosier’s 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series campaign, which is exclusive to ovals, has featured a season-best finish of 18th place in the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway last month. Misfortune hit Carpenter in the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix at Phoenix International Raceway in April when contact just 45 laps from the finish relegated the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet to a 21st-place finish.
The 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil saw Ed Carpenter Racing – the team – showcase its ability, but while teammate Josef Newgarden battled for the win late, Carpenter was forced to retire with a mechanical issue nearly halfway into the race.
Carpenter has two more opportunities – this weekend’s ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway and the completion of the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway on Aug. 27 – before he returns to his “other” job as team owner.
A recent test at Pocono has the three-time Verizon IndyCar Series race winner optimistic at what he considers one of his more difficult tracks on the schedule. In three previous starts at Pocono, Carpenter’s best finish is ninth.
"Pocono, we just had a really successful test there (Aug. 4),” Carpenter said. “We've had strong cars there, but of all the ovals in the series, that's probably been the least strong circuit for myself.
“So we really put a lot of focus in at the test to try to put ourselves in a better position going into the race and it felt really good leaving there. It's the happiest I've ever been with the car at Pocono. I feel like we've got two really good opportunities to go out and get results.
“Obviously, the goal is each and every week to win and I feel good really good about our chances for both of them right now.”
Carpenter is equally excited about the resumption of the Firestone 600. When rain halted the race June 12 after 71 of 248 laps, the 35-year-old was running fifth. The 1.455-mile oval was the site of his last win in June 2014.
"Yeah, I mean I feel really good,” Carpenter said. “Obviously we were having a good run at Texas when the race was postponed, so I feel confident going back there. We've had good cars there over the years and hopefully we’ll go there and finish what we started.”
“I'm confident going back there to Texas, a place that we've won at.”
The two-time Indianapolis 500 pole sitter is no stranger to finishing strong, having previously claimed season finales in 2011 at Kentucky Speedway driving for Sarah Fisher Racing and in 2012 at Auto Club Speedway with his own newly formed team.
"Any win is really huge,” said Carpenter. “I've been known to win a few season finales before, in Kentucky and in Fontana, so hopefully we'll go out strong again at Texas.
“It's a great place to race. It's a great place to win. You know, they really treat you right there. Hopefully we'll go out on a high note and have something to be happy about all off-season."
ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway fast facts: