By Will Martin
IRL racing made its way to Texas Motor Speedway June 6th and 7th with an added bonus of making the Firestone Race under the lights 50 miles longer. It had been theorized exactly how racers would go about strategizing for tires, fuel, and other engine adjustments.
Driving the Fuzzy’s Vodka #20 car it would be Ed Carpenter who would race dominantly with the lead for a majority of the final 70 laps to claim his first racing win since 2012 at Fontana.
“Awesome night. I have loved this race track for a long time, but had a lot of bad luck here,” Carpenter said. “I have really always wanted to win here so super excited. …The Fuzzy’s car was hooked up by the end. I think we were for sure the car to beat at the end. …It’s great to finally break through here.”
The finish was close and could have been closer had pole sitter Will Power not been tabbed with a penalty lap for speeding in pit row. That infraction denied the fans a chance at seeing an epic shootout to close out a fun weekend. One where Johnny Rutherford, AJ Foyt, Johny Hendricks, and other dignitaries were at Texas Motor Speedway.
The question was posed to Will Power of Australia if he could have caught Carpenter sans the penalty.
“I don’t know,” said Power. “Ed was awfully strong. He’s an awesome driver and it would have been a good battle at the end. My car was good at the end of the stint, but I just feel happy that the Verizon car came in second. It was a lot of fun.”
Juan Pablo Montoya finished a season best third, while Simon Pagenaid (77) and Scott Dixon (9) rounded out the top 5.
Post race Montoya and Power engaged in some of the funniest repartee that a second and third place finisher could ask for in the media room. Don’t believe me? Just watch for yourself. This could be a morning radio show!
Juan Pablo was miffed over Ed Carpenter in what he felt was a jumping of the late race restart.
“I think there’s got to be a clear-cut penalty that if you go before the cones, you’ve got to get a penalty…but he jumped it because he knew they were never going to wave it off because if you wave it off, the race is over. Fun times.” Montoya said while acknowledging how much fun he had finishing third.
One racer who has been unable to finish a race since his INDY 500 success is Ryan Hunter-Reay. His problems continued at Texas Motor Speedway.
“The car just lost power all of the sudden, then we had an oil pressure alarm, I tried to go down on the apron because I thought we were maybe spilling oil everywhere. …We had made a change on that last stop and I thought that would bring us into the game. We were running seventh and still had a shot at it. It was a long night and we needed the points most of all, so really disappointed for the DHL team.” lamented Hunter-Reay.
Another racer who started out strong before his engine blew out was Marco Andretti. His engine blew out causing the first caution at Lap 7 as his vehicle caught fire. Otherwise-if you exclude a collision between Sebastian Bourdain and Justin Wilson midway through the race at Turn 4 where both cars rolled into the outer wall-it was a very clean and green race. The fans were treated to a great time in the windy 96 degree heat.
As for Ed Carpenter he was more then ready to answer the allegation tossed to him by Juan Pablo Montoya.
“He was lagging back…You’re not supposed to lag back, we talked about that in the driver’s meeting. He ended up finishing third anyway, right, so it doesn’t matter.” Carpenter said.
How does it feel to be back in the winners circle?
“I have loved this track for a really long time and had a lot of bad luck here. I have always really wanted to win here so I’m super excited. “ gushed Carpenter. And with that you have a sixth winner in eight races on the Indy Car side of things.
Great time at Texas Motor Speedway this week. Back at it again in November. Congrats to Matt Crafton and Ed Carpenter this weekend. For a breakdown on how Saturday nights racers finished:
1. #20 Ed Carpenter, Ed Carpenter Racing
2. #12 Will Power, Team Penske
3. #2 Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske
4. #77 Simon Pagenaud, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
5. #9 Scott Dixon, Ganassi Racing
6. #10 Tony Kanaan, Ganassi Racing
7. #8 Ryan Briscoe, Ganassi Racing
8. #83 Charlie Kimball, Ganassi Racing
9. #7 Mikhail Aleshin, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
10. #3 Helio Castroneves, Team Penske
11. #67 Josef Newgarden, Sarah Fisher Hartman
12. #15 Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan
13. #34 Carlos Munoz, Andretti Autosport
14. #17 Sebastian Saavedra, KV AFS Racing
15. #27 James Hinchcliffe, Andretti Autosport
16. #98 Jack Hawksworth, BHA BBM
17. #18 Carlos Huertas, Dale Coyne Racing
18. #14 Takuma Sato, AJ Foyt Racing
19. #28 Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport
20. #11 Sebastien Bourdais, KVSH Racing
21. #19 Justin Wilson, Dale Coyne Racing
22. #25 Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport