MADISON, Ill – Ed Carpenter had an extremely quiet year in 2019. See, the oval specialist had heard the rumors. Would racing away from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway be it for him soon? See, Carpenter had stepped out of a full time seat for the 2014 season and what started as a hit, has since turned to a bit of a struggle.
Heading into the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season, Carpenter had one top five finish since 2014. He had two combined top 10 finishes in 2016 and 2017. Last year, he did finish runner-up in a strong run in the Indy 500 and was seventh in Phoenix. Those were his only finishes better than 10th though.
This year, Carpenter started second and led seven laps in the ‘500 including bringing his No. 20 Chevrolet home sixth. He’d finish worse than that just once all year (13th at Texas).
On Saturday night in Gateway, Carpenter was on a great strategy in the end and charged once he had clean air to finish second in the Bommarito Automotive Group 500. In fact, if he had one more lap, he thinks he could have won.
“Even just another straightaway, I maybe could have gotten Takuma,” Carpenter said after scoring his 15th career Indy Car top five. “We were really good on the long runs tonight. Qualifying so bad didn’t help us. Early in the race, the guys asked me what I needed and I said clear track more than anything. I thought the race was really good and we had made really good adjustments to it. Days like yesterday are really tough and dejecting for the whole team. We kept our heads down and never gave up, came back strong tonight and got a result. This was a great way to finish the year. It would have been a little better if we could have gotten a win, I definitely gave it all I had. It was fun to be back up at the front again.”
For Carpenter, with the final two races being on road courses, his 2019 campaign as a driver comes to an end. In five races, he had three top six finishes. If you go back to last year now, he has five top 10’s in his last seven starts.