If there’s one owner/driver in the IZOD IndyCar Series paddock who isn’t paying attention to the old adage of “You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” it’s Ed Carpenter.
With the recent forming of Ed Carpenter Racing, the 30-year-old Hoosier has a prime opportunity to take control of his future, to leave some of his shortcomings behind and to be taken seriously as a start-to-finish championship contender.
The road to earning the title he desires won’t come easily, nor will it happen in ECR’s debut season, but as his recent actions reveal, assembling his new team has been about hiring the best, rather than the most familiar or readily available.
Starting with the hiring of Walker Racing owner and former Team Penske team manager Derrick Walker, Carpenter, and his ECR co-owner/stepfather Tony George signaled their intentions. The old Carpenter—“Oval Only Ed” as this writer once dubbed him—was clearly something the Kentucky race winner wanted to leave behind.
The next phase of forming Carpenter’s “second impression,” as SPEED.com learned Monday was the hiring of veteran CART, Champ Car and IndyCar Series engineer Michael Cannon.
Arguably the top IndyCar engineer on the market during the off-season, Cannon’s road racing pedigree is well-known, but his setup skills on ovals—highlighted in 2011 where he and Tony Kanaan finished fourth at Indy, fifth at Texas 2 and second at Iowa--should complement ECR’s ambitious program from the outset.
“I spent a lot of time talking with Michael to paint the potential of what we have here, and to my delight, he’s come to work for us,” said Walker. “I think it sends a message that Ed and his partners are very serious about this program. It isn’t ‘Vision Racing 2.’ It’s a new entity, and it does have long-term desires to be a competitive force in the series and is making a bold step. The people who are coming to work for us are just part of the confirmation that what we’re doing deserves to be taken seriously.” More at SpeedTV.com
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