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Hot, Slippery Barber Track Tough For ECR Sunday

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Ed Carpenter, Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama

Hot, Slippery Barber Track Tough For ECR Sunday

Tom Blattler
Ed Carpenter Racing
April 1, 2012

Ed CarpenterCarpenter Sunday At Barber
April 1st 2012 - LEEDS, AL – Ed Carpenter shook his head as he jumped out of the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet Sunday following the tough 90-lap Grand Prix of Alabama at the Barber Motorsports Park. He wasn’t pleased.

After an improving qualifying run Saturday at the 2.38-mile road course, Carpenter had high hopes of a solid race performance in the second stop of the 16-race IZOD IndyCar Series. Despite just 21 laps in practice and qualifying, Carpenter entered Sunday’s main event with a positive outlook with his newly-formed Fuzzy’s operation.

That wasn’t the case after a grueling struggle on a hot, slippery racing surface. Carpenter fought a tough-handling Dallara machine to take the checkered flag in 22nd position in front of large crowd at the picturesque circuit east of Birmingham.

“I don’t know what happened today,” said Carpenter, the only team owner/driver on the IZOD IndyCar campaign. “We tried some things in the warm-up this morning and the car just wasn’t happy. So we went back to the setups we used in qualifying. That was pretty good on Saturday. But the car had just a ridiculous amount of understeer today. I couldn’t get through the corners.”

The Fuzzy’s Vodka squad was prepared to utilize several race strategies depending on how the race played out. An early pit stop on lap 3 under the yellow flag put Carpenter on a different pit window from many of the other drivers. It looked good in the first portion of the race, but the tough track conditions slowed many of the competitors and passing was incredibly difficult.

“We were going to try to save fuel and turn it into a two (pit) stopper (race),” Carpenter said. “But that didn’t work either. It was just a long race. It wasn’t much fun from where I was sitting today. Actually, this was the first day we have run here with so much sunshine, and the track surface was very slick. The conditions changed a lot today, but some guys were able to figure it out.”

The ECR team experienced just a half day of testing two weeks ago at Barber Motorsports Park due to rain storms. But the team felt good entering the weekend after they learned a large amount about the new car in the St. Petersburg race last Sunday.

“This new car seems to have a very small window to make it handle properly,” Carpenter said. “We threw a lot of things at this car this weekend and the race was much different from the conditions in practice and qualifying. We’ll work hard to get the car better.”

Carpenter and his contingent head back to Indianapolis tonight to prepare for their first oval test with the new DW12 Dallara chassis and the twin-turbo Chevrolet V-6 Indy engine. Ten teams are scheduled to participate in a special test this Wednesday at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway 2.5-mile oval in Speedway, Ind.

Following the Indy test, the Fuzzy’s crew then readies the No. 20 machine for the streets of Long Beach, Calif., in the legendary “Roar by the Shore” event on April 13-15.

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