Catching up with… Ed Carpenter

Ed Carpenter admits it was initially strange to stay on pit lane with team manager Tim Broyles, engineer Matt Barnes and crew chief Bret Schmitt while Mike Conway drove the No. 20 Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka car during a two-day test last month.

In November, Carpenter announced he would scale back his schedule to the six oval races in 2014 and share his car with Conway, a race and pole winner during the 2013 season who will contest the 12 road/street circuit races.

"It did feel different watching, but the team worked well with Mike on developing the car. It was a good start for us. Overall, I like the direction we are going," said Carpenter, the sole team owner/driver in the IndyCar Series.

The team will participate Jan. 17 in a Chevrolet test session at Sebring International Raceway, and the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is less than 90 days off. There's much to accomplish in the interim, but Carpenter and crew address details earnestly and systematically.

Q: When was the subject of you stepping out of the car for the roads and streets broached?

A: (Wife) Heather and I talked about it a little bit before the season was over, but we didn't really get into it until after the season.

I threw the idea out there after our first year with Fuzzy's just to make sure we were doing everything we could do to make them happy and they didn't want anyone else in the car but me, which I appreciate.

This year seemed to be the right time to do it for the health and growth of the team. Once we started talking about it, Mike was clearly the best person for us. I think he's going to fit in well with his personality and obviously he skill set.

Q: To have someone who can come in and work with many of the people he knows must have been part of the decision-making, too.

A: It's just a really good fit for what he wants to do, what his skill set is and his professional approach is really in line with how we operate. It's early, but we'll all expecting to do great things.

Q: With the strengths of both of you, the entrant championship probably is a goal.

A: It's a rarity, but I feel like we have all the tools and the combined talent of Mike and I and the team's overall ability, the potential is there to make that goal a reality. Like everything, it's going to come down to execution and overachieving every weekend.

Q: With not being in the car during those 12 races, will that allow you more time to devote to growing the team through the sponsorship base.

A: It's definitely going to be an adjustment.

I'm still going to have the mentality of a driver on those weekends. I think I'll be able to bring additional help to the team and help Mike and certainly have a little more time to focus on the business side of things.

That's the main objective is to making sure Ed Carpenter Racing is in a position to be sustainable and be a long-standing team in the series.

Q: Like your race team, your alma mater Butler is going through some changes this year. What's your prospectus for the Butler Bulldogs in the Big East this season.

A: They're doing a great job. No one knew what to expect with all the changes. Even if (former coach) Brad (Stevens) would have been here, it would have been a big change going to the Big East.

They have all the capabilities; it just comes down to executing. I know (coach) Brandon (Miller) – he and I were in the same graduating class at Butler – and I have more faith in him than most others when he was selected to take over the program.

Butler has a culture and system that allows for better transitions than other schools and (athletic director) Barry Collier brings a lot of stability to the athletics program.

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