Ed Carpenter Press Conference Transcript

Ed Carpenter
Ed Carpenter

Ed Carpenter, Co-Owner Of Cfh Racing With Sarah Fisher And Wink Hartman, And Co-Driver Of The No. 20 Fuzzy’s Premium Vodka Chevrolet, was the guest on the Verizon IndyCar Series weekly teleconference following the first career Series’ victory for CFH driver Josef Newgarden at Barber Motorsports Park.

ARNI SRIBHEN: Welcome, everyone, to today's IndyCar media teleconference. We're pleased to be joined today by Ed Carpenter, the coâ€'owner of CSH Racing. Welcome to the call.

ED CARPENTER: Good afternoon. Thanks for having me on.

ARNI SRIBHEN: Ed is the driver who has won the pole position for the Indianapolis 500 the last two years and will be one of the drivers participating in the Verizon IndyCar Series promoter test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 3rd. That test will mark the debut of the superspeedway aerodynamic bodywork supplied by Chevrolet and Honda. Ed, who shares the No. 20 Fuzzy Vodka CSH Racing Chevrolet with driver Luca Filippi will make his 2015 debut at the 99th Indianapolis 500 next month. His CSH Racing team will also field entries for Josef Newgarden and J.R. Hildebrand, and they won the most recent Verizon IndyCar Series race at Barber Motorsports Park with Josef Newgarden last Sunday.

Ed, putting your driver hat on first, it's been a while since you've been in a car. You have to have been counting the days down this week until getting to drive on Sunday.

ED CARPENTER: Yeah, absolutely, getting a little bit more excited each and every day as we inch closer to the start of the month of May, at least with one day to kind of get our feed wet with the new aero kits and all the new parts. It's really exciting, and it's going to be a long wait from the 3rd to the 11th again, but at least we have other onâ€'track activity to distract me.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]ARNI SRIBHEN: Your last race was Fontana last August, and I know in the offâ€'season you did some testing and helped do some development work on the superspeedway aero kit with Chevrolet. Have you seen the final version of the Chevrolet superspeedway kit, and what do you expect from it this month?

ED CARPENTER: I mean, expectations are probably the biggest unknown, just in â€'â€' we've seen data and have information, but you can only make up so much of it until you kind of get out and validate it yourself and get a feel for it. I've seen everything now. We have everything in the shop for our cars, and some cars are nearly done, others are midway through. But we're getting there in a short amount of time, but I think they look good. It's different, different than the road course package slightly. I think I like it a lot. It's a cleanâ€'looking car. It looks fast to me, and hopefully we can prove that it is here on Sunday.

Q. You've won races for yourself the last two years, but joining forces with Sarah Fisher's team to force CFS racing, how gratifying was it to see the 57 team and Josef win at Barber last Sunday?

ED CARPENTER: Oh, it was great. We're one big team now, and any time any part of your team wins, it's a win for all of us. You know, I was really, really happy for Josef when the merger happened, and it was unknown if he was going to be coming back at that point. He had another offer, and spent a lot of time talking to him and trying to sell him on how we can help him, and to be able to go out and get a win early in the season, I think makes him feel good about his decision and validates the belief that we all have in him and his abilities.

Hopefully this is just one of many for he and the team, and it's always good to have some momentum going into May.

ARNI SRIBHEN: With the owner hat on still, filling entries for yourself, Josef and J.R. heading into the speedway, just the challenge of adding that extra car.

ED CARPENTER: It's always a little extra work when you add Indyâ€'only efforts because you're bringing in â€'â€' for a team like us, you've got to bring in people that are just going to be working for you for a month, so integrating them into what we do and keeping things flowing can be a challenge, but for the most part it's the same group that we had with J.R. last year, so that helps a lot, just having a year under our belt and some continuity and no one had to really get to know each other. Everyone was familiar.

It's a little bit more challenging this year just because of the aero kits and we're still figuring out how they go together and how to make them as nice as we can, and it's been â€'â€' it's gone down to the wire getting parts to be able to have all our cars ready for not only the test on Sunday but for beginning practice at the Grand Prix and the official opening day of the month of May.

You know, it's definitely work and some strain on some days, but we have a really good group of people here that are organized and hard workers, and they're up to the task.

Q. Ed, could you give me a general view on the aero kit program? Do you think it's really helped the competition? Has it been worth all the effort put in by the manufacturers?

ED CARPENTER: Well, I don't think it's necessarily hurt competition. I think that we've had â€'â€' in particular the race this past weekend at Barber was as good of a race as I ever remember at Barber, both manufacturers in the fight and with a chance to win. You know, I don't think it's hurt competition. I think it's taken us some time to get used to the cars and learn about them, and the more we do that, the racing will continue to get better. I think it's too early to say whether or not they're worth it. I think there's some people that probably think it is and some people not, but I do know that it's very important to Chevrolet, this whole process, and along with the engine specifications that we use now and the aero kits, it was a big part of them wanting to come back into IndyCar racing after an absence of a few years.

You know, I think it's going well. I think it's cool that we have differentâ€'looking cars, something else for fans to distinguish and choose favorites, and the racing doesn't seem to have suffered in my view.

Q. Do you think the difference in the cars is easier to see in person than on TV? I'm having trouble on TV noticing a whole lot of difference.

ED CARPENTER: Definitely I think you'll notice it more live and in the flesh, depending on the angles on TV. If you haven't seen the car in person, I think it would probably be harder to pick some of the things out on TV, depending on the view. But certainly once you kind of know the differences, you can spot them from a long ways away.

For me, I notice it, but that's just my opinion.

ARNI SRIBHEN: You've been the pole sitter for the Indy 500 the last two years, and a lot of drivers say that that 10 miles is probably the most challenging part of racing that they'll do in their careers. Can you just describe what it's like to do four laps flat out around the speedway?

ED CARPENTER: I mean, it's intense. You know, especially when you have a car fast enough to make a run at pole. When you get to that point you know you have a chance, you're kind of â€'â€' you're going for it, and the way we have to set the car up, downforceâ€'wise, to get that last bit of speed out of them, it makes them hard to drive. I think the â€'â€' we're running on so little downforce at that point, we'll wear the tires out in that 10â€'mile run probably more so than we would in a full fuel load at race downforce, so you're just really, really abusing the tires, sliding around a lot.

I think it takes a lot of focus and a lot of commitment to make that pole run. But it's definitely challenging and stressful, but it's also really satisfying when you get it right.

Q. You talked about the new aero kits taking a little while for teams to kind of get used to them. How do you think that's going to affect the month of May being kind of shortened, abbreviated month of May than we're used to from eons past?

ED CARPENTER: Well, as far as the general length of the month of May, it's relatively similar. We have this day on Sunday which is going to be extremely valuable compared to last year. We ran on Sunday after the GP and we're taking that day off, which is needed. I think we've adapted to the schedule, but it's tough to say sitting here right now how much we're going to learn.

Even the teams that did the lion's share of development in the offâ€'season for the aero kit, you know, I don't think any of them ran the car in the full speedway configuration like we'll have it on Sunday, and there's quite a few options that we have for the car.

There's going to be a lot to learn. Even though the month of May is condensed from when I started my career, there's still way more track time than we get anywhere else, as long as Mother Nature cooperates. The one thing that's certain is it's the same for everyone, so whoever â€'â€' whichever team and drivers can be most efficient and make the best use of their time certainly has the ability to get a leg up on the competition.

Q. You mentioned parts coming down to the wire a little bit. Are we going to see any kind of conservatism, if you will, through the month of May, or is that not going to be a problem come practice and race time for the 500?

ED CARPENTER: No, I don't foresee that. I mean, it's the Indianapolis 500, and there's only one reason to be there, and that's to try to win, and you can't do that and be conservative.

As a driver you're not thinking about those things, and even the team, when you get out on track. But I don't foresee there being a supply problem moving forward. I think the biggest challenge is just getting everyone their initial orders and spare orders fulfilled, and from there they'll start building up a bit of a buffer.

But everything is on track to where we're supposed to be. It was going to be tight the whole way through, but we've been prepared for that.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Q. Ed, you mentioned the different options you have within the Superspeedway kit. With the threeâ€'car team, what kind of progression do you foresee your team going through? Will you be sending one car off in one direction and another in another? How will you work through everything to figure out what's going to be the best components to use?

ED CARPENTER: Well, I mean, I think we have some ideas for how to approach it. You know, I think we'll see what we learn here on Sunday, and I think that will kind of set the course for how we attack the first part of the week once we get back on the oval.

But the one thing I am looking forward to is we have three great cars and I have two really good teammates to lean on. I ran with J.R. last year, and I've been â€'â€' Josef has been strong at the speedway the past two years, as well, being in the fast nine and racing against him there. You know, so we have three strong combinations in the team, and certainly that should work to our benefit.

Q. Ed, I'm here in Fort Worth and I'm wondering if the aero kit that will make its debut at Indy be essentially the same kit you'll use at TMS, or what kind of variations are there, if there are any?

ED CARPENTER: You know, I'm still trying to understand all the different combinations. I think there's a few parts that won't be available at TMS that we'll run at Indianapolis that are kind of speedwayâ€'centric. But the bulk of the car will look very much the same at Texas as what you'll see throughout the month of May.

Q. Do you think that might return some of the pack racing we've seen in the past there, or is this whole kit designed to eliminate that kind of thing?

ED CARPENTER: I get pretty annoyed when we talk about pack racing, to be honest. I think it gets overblown a little bit. I started racing at Texas in 2003, and to me the last pack race we had there was probably in 2005, you know, with the old car, so we ran it another six years with what I would consider to be not pack racing. I don't think so. I do hope that it tightens things up a little bit. The formula we've had there the past couple years has been good for me. I've found some success. But I'd like to see a little more downforce come back and get things tightened up to put on an even more exciting show.

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