Ed Carpenter wins first IndyCar pole
Vision Racing and driver Ed Carpenter scored their first-ever IZOD IndyCar Series PEAK Pole Award in preparation for the Kentucky Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway this afternoon. Piloting the No. 20 Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka Dallara/Honda/Firestone machine, Carpenter put up a two-lap qualifying effort at 217.933 mph to put the Vision Racing/Panther Racing entry on top of the scoring pylon.
Carpenter will start on the inside of row one along side Will Power of Penske Racing and directly in front of his Panther Racing teammate, Dan Wheldon in the No. 4 National Guard car. It is Carpenter's 102nd IZOD IndyCar Series start (83rd with Vision Racing) and the team's 86th IZOD IndyCar Series event.
The 29-year-old Carpenter is picking up almost right where he left off at Kentucky Speedway just last year, when he put together his best IZOD IndyCar Series race in his seven-year career. Starting from the 14th spot, Carpenter passed seven cars in the first eight laps, led a total of 34 laps and earned a career-best finish of second; finishing just behind Penske Racing's Ryan Briscoe by a margin of 0.0162 of a second in the Series' closest finish at Kentucky.
Now Carpenter is poised to finish just one spot better in the Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka special and earn he and the team's first series victory.
"I love this track and this area. I won one of my national midget races in Louisville and won a lot of sprint car races in Salem, Indiana. The southern Indiana/Kentucky region seems to be good to me for some reason. The way I kind of look at it, I'm trying to keep my career going so every minute I'm in the car, I have to do the best that I can and get the most out of it. I'm just having a lot of fun right now; the Panther team is going a great job in addition with the Vision Racing part of it. It's just a lot of fun."
It's no surprise to anyone that the part-time 2010 Vision Racing/Carpenter effort is fast. Just last week at Chicagoland Speedway, Carpenter started 11th, charged through the field right away, led three laps and ran in the top five for much of the race. However, it was a mechanical issue during a pit stop regarding the fuel hose and rig that put him out of contention late in the race.
Not to mention, Carpenter and the team tested at Kentucky Speedway just last month with very positive results. So since Carpenter's second place run at Kentucky last season, the 1.5-mile oval has always been a highly anticipated race for the team in 2010.
Kentucky Speedway is the third of four ovals, including Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway, which Carpenter will race this season. It's no coincidence that Carpenter's best finishes have come on these ovals and he looks to continue on that precedent with his best-ever finish tomorrow night.
Carpenter's teammate for the third time this season, Dan Wheldon, will start a season-high third. Scott Dixon will join Wheldon on Row 2.
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Panther/Vision/Fuzzy's Vodka, PEAK Performance Pole Award winner): "I love this track and this area. I won one of my national midget races in Louisville and won a lot of sprint car races in Salem, Indiana. The southern Indiana/Kentucky region seems to be good to me for some reason. The way I kind of look at it, I'm trying to keep my career going so every minute I'm in the car, I have to do the best that I can and get the most out of it. I'm just having a lot of fun right now; the Panther team is going a great job in addition with the Vision Racing part of it. It's just a lot of fun."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske, qualified second): "My qualifying run was very straightforward. This was a typical oval run with lots of wind and low grip. It is good for the #12 Team Verizon car to start on the front row. I need a good result on a 1.5-mile oval this season and it's important that we finish ahead of Dario (Franchitti) to keep the points lead. I feel that qualifying is very important but this track allows for passing and a lot can happen during the race."
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, qualified fourth): "At the start of the qualifying run the car was extremely loose and we still had a lot of driving to do. It is a windy day here and it doesn't take a lot to get the cars out of shape. After all, it was a good day for the #9 Target car. After Dario's run, we made a few changes, but qualifying is tough. For example, last week in Chicago we don't know what happened during qualifying or why. There are strange things that can happen at these places."
DAN WHELDON (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing, qualified third): "It was obviously a great job by everybody at the National Guard Panther Racing team and we've been enjoying the good run we've had the last few races. The wind was gusting out there and I noticed it more in Turn Three during my qualifying run than I did this morning in the practice. This was just qualifying and we're going to continue to work very hard in the warm-up session for the race and it's such a great benefit to have Ed Carpenter with us this weekend in the Fuzzy's Vodka car. Ed's been a great addition and he's really helped the team, as you can see by our performance today. It's going to be a hectic race again and I'm excited for that. Hopefully we can go one position better than we did last race in the No. 4 car but that's not to underestimate the competition; it's extremely competitive out there and I'm just having a lot of fun right now."
HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 06 Formula Dream/Panasonic, qualified fifth): "It was nice to hold the fastest spot for a while and end up fifth fastest. It is more than we expected. The car was handling well so I really pushed it. We struggled a lot this morning and decided to just go for it in qualifying. We didn't take off all of the downforce for qualifying; we went about half-way and it looks like it worked out well for us. We are going to focus on the race setup now and having a good, strong race tomorrow. "
BERTRAND BAGUETTE (No. 34 RACB/Conquest Racing, qualified sixth): "I had a good qualifying run. I must admit I was a bit surprised with our speed. It's faster than I thought it would be because we didn't do any qualifying runs in practice. I made a small mistake on my second lap that cost us some speed so I didn't think at the end of my qualifying laps that we would end up P6 on the grid. As a team, we placed both cars in the top ten and beat out teams like Ganassi and Penske, so that is very encouraging for us. We might be a small team compared to others but we're doing great things."
MARIO MORAES (#32 KV RACING TECHNOLOGY, qualified seventh): "The KV Racing car felt pretty good despite the windy conditions this afternoon. The track was so different this morning with the cool, cloudy weather. Then, this afternoon, we had sunny and windy conditions. Almost the opposite. The wind makes a different feeling in the turns. You want the car to be neutral, no oversteer or understeer. That is difficult with the windy conditions. But I think we'll have a good car for Saturday night's race. It is supposed to be cooler and that could change the setups too."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, qualified eighth): "Today the Team Penske car was not quite what it needed to be in qualifying. Certainly, the wind was a factor today. We will be working on our race set-up in tonight's practice and I know we'll be in contention Saturday night during the race. Will is starting up front and Ryan is starting in the row behind me so we just need to work together to have a strong result."
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, qualified ninth): "We kind of guessed on our setup for qualifying. We didn't get a chance to do a practice run this morning because practice was shortened (due to rain). We knew it just wasn't a qualifying lap that was going to threaten for pole. I think we still have a starting position where we can compete for the win tomorrow and if it's anything like last year's race in Kentucky, it's going to be a really exciting race."
TOMAS SCHECKTER (No. 36 Norcote Conquest Racing, qualified 10th): "I'm really happy with my qualifying position. We only did race runs in practice but we trimmed a lot of downforce out ahead of qualifying and the Conquest guys did a great job to give me a qualifying car like that. I'm also really happy that Norcote is on board this weekend and to give them a top ten on the grid for their first race is great. As I said, we worked on our race setup in practice and had a good car so hopefully we can keep it up tomorrow."
VITOR MEIRA (No. 14 ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing, qualified 12th): "The run wasn't so bad with the wind. Because of the wind maybe we weren't in the best optimized gear. The balance on the car was good and for the race, it's very good. Twelfth is a position that we can at least keep our nose clean on the start. Things are getting better - we definitely improved on qualifying especially with the competition getting as tight as it is. I think the ABC Supply/AJ Foyt Racing team did a very good job so we can go racing with our nose clean."
ALEX TAGLIANI (No. 77 FAZZT Race Team, qualified 13th): "It was a good effort from everyone, the car was a little bit loose in qualifying but we were faced with a lot of wind gusts, which was very different from the conditions in the morning. Our first lap was a P9 lap but we dropped off on lap two, I got loose and we lost a little momentum, but it was still good. The car was a little closer than it was starting in Chicago and we had a really fast car in Chicago so from where we start we can definitely make it to the front."
TAKUMA SATO (#5 LOTUS - KV RACING TECHNOLOGY, qualified 14th): "We struggled to find the balance in qualifying today. I think the reason was because, in morning practice, it was much cooler and we had some moisture. This afternoon, it was dry and much hotter. These big changes in conditions really affect the car and I think it caught out other teams also. I am confident we will find the balance and prepare the car for the race in the next session tonight."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Meijer, qualified 15th): "The Meijer car was way loose, there definitely was something wrong - we missed something in the set up and that opening lap killed us. This is more of a handling track and there is more emphasis on car balance. Ideally we'll have a strong enough car tomorrow that our starting position won't matter."
SARAH FISHER (No. 67 Dollar General/Sarah Fisher Racing): "The car just didn't repeat itself out there. We've been having some gear box issues that are unexplainable at this point, so it will be a lot of computer work from here forward. I'm hoping that we can come from the back tomorrow, just like we did at Chicagoland last weekend. I've got a teammate out there with me tomorrow night so I'm hoping we can work together to get our cars to the front. We always seem to have good race cars, just struggle a bit in qualifying. We'll get there." -Sarah
E.J. VISO (No. 8 PDVSA - KV Racing Technology): "On my qualifying run, the car was too positive on the front end. I had a big oversteer. I could have lost the rear of the car. I didn't want that to happen, so I adjusted my bars in the car and survived that qualifying run. The track was so different from the morning practice with the heavy air and cool temperatures. Then we had the sun and windy conditions in qualifying. I feel pretty confident for the race. We have been coming from the back on the ovals this year, and we have driven into the top-five several times. I think we can do that again here."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 66 Service Central/National Tire & Battery/SFR): "The setup of this car is something that I'm familiar with, but it's just not translating at all. Our car is just flat out slow; it doesn't build speed. It's frustrating because the guys worked really hard to put a setup on the car that I knew. It's just not working for us. It's pretty frustrating to be flat and run like this, but we're not giving up. We'll just have to work our way through the field tomorrow night."
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