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IndyCar Season Preview: Ed Carpenter

Photo credit: Paul Henman (CC-BY-NC-SA)

#20 Fuzzy’s Premium Vodka Dallara-Chevrolet, Ed Carpenter Racing

Born: March 3, 1981

Home: Indianapolis, Indiana

2011 HIGHLIGHTS: After coming desperately close to winning at Kentucky two years in a row, Carpenter finally managed to turn the trick in 2011, edging eventual series champion Dario Franchitti by .0098 of a second to take his maiden IndyCar victory. He finished 26th in points while running a limited schedule for Sarah Fisher Racing.

2011 LOWLIGHTS: Never particularly well-respected for his skills at turning both left and right, Carpenter competed on three circuits that fit that bill in 2011: Mid-Ohio, Infineon, and the streets of Baltimore. He failed to finish better than 20th in any of those events.

SEASON OUTLOOK: In an environment where many race teams are scaling back or shutting down entirely, Carpenter and stepfather/IRL founder Tony George have taken the bold step of starting an entirely new team for 2012. No, this isn’t a reformation of the mediocre Vision Racing outfit where Carpenter spent six average years; this new team will operate out of the Walker Racing shops and employ Michael Cannon as its engineer. The talent of the people working for ECR will be on par with some of the top teams in the sport.

That being said, it’s up to Carpenter to make that talent gel, both on the track and off. Kentucky won’t return to the schedule this year, taking away his one guaranteed podium finish, and with a shrinking oval schedule, his strongest traits as a driver will be limited. Carpenter will have to utilize the talent he’s assembled behind the scenes to help him improve on the road and street circuits. On paper, this team has top-15 quality; if Carpenter makes serious strides away from the ovals, and we know he’s working at it, this could be the surprise top-10 team that happens nearly every year.

– Chris Leone

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