INDIANAPOLIS – When your out on the track, just about anything can happen when your going hundreds of miles an hour.
Ed Carpenter found that out the hard way during the Izod IndyCar Series’ dual races in Houston this weekend.
On Saturday he found himself at the wrong place at the wrong time-hitting a stalled James Hinchcliffe on the starting grid. The team would eventually get back out but he finished 23rd. Sunday brought a rare mechanical failure to the No. 20 Chevrolet powered machine that led to a 22nd place finish.
“It was wild. It was a weird weekend,” said Carpenter of Houston-but what happened there wasn’t even the most unusual thing that happened to the team over the past few weeks.
On September 24th a team trailer heading from a test at Fontana to Houston caught fire in Arizona, destroying some of the team’s equipment while also damaging others. No one was injured in the fire but the hauler was a total loss and caused some headaches as the still young team approaches the end of the season.
“Not news your ever expecting but it could have been a whole lot worse,” said Carpenter of the fire. “No one was injured and we retained a lot of our equipment and the car wasn’t damaged and we’ll race the same car at Fontana. That was a blessing but it created a lot more work than what we had on the original schedule but the guys did a really good job of recovering.”
Perhaps the team can do the same after a disappointing few weeks as they approach the end of the IndyCar season-which has been lucky for team over the past two seasons. Carpenter won the race at Fontana to end the year in 2012 and captured the victory in the final official race of the 2011 season at Kentucky. The season finale that season in Las Vegas was not officially counted as a race following the 15-car accident in which Dan Wheldon was killed.
A strong oval driver throughout his career, Carpenter could possibly rely on a boost from the MAV TV 500 on October 19th, but Carpenter won’t take anything for granted.
“I think it’s coincidence that they’ve both been season-ending races. I think that’s coincidence but Kentucky is a track that I ran well at and I took a liking to Fontana last year and the team gave me a great car, had good pit stops,” said Carpenter. “In a 500 mile race it’s no different than a 500 mile race here in Indianapolis. You’ve got to have more than a fast car. You have to have a good car, you have to have good pit stops because there will be more pit stops than what we do the majority of the other races.
“To go back and get another win, it’s going to be a team effort just like it was last year.”
Though he hopes the journey won’t be like it was the last month.