FORT WORTH, Texas – When it comes to racing on the big ovals Ed Carpenter has established himself as the best in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
Carpenter proved that with an impressive victory in Saturday night’s Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway. Carpenter scored his third career IndyCar Series victory after the dominant driver in Saturday night’s race – Will Power – was nailed for a pit road speeding penalty on lap 214 of the 248-lap race. Power was able to fight his way back to second place after pitting for fresh tires with just a few laps remaining in the race.
Carpenter won by just .5247 of a second over Power.
“I knew we had a good car,” Carpenter said. “We had a good test here. I got extra motivated for tonight. I just felt like we left some on the table in qualifying but it made me extra motivated for tonight. The first two stints weren’t great. We had one bad stint but the guys made great adjustments all night. The Fuzzy’s car was hooked up by the end. I though for sure, we were the car to beat at the end. They made the right call. Awesome night. I’ve always wanted to win here so I’m super excited.
“We had the car to win Indy. I’m not saying we would have beat Ryan (Hunter-Reay, Indy 500 winner) but we had a great shot in that race. But I’m proud of the team – we have two wins this year.”
His victory also drew approval from his family.
“This was a great effort by these guys – they made great pit stops and the strategy was changing – it was like a box of chocolates,” said Carpenter’s stepfather, Tony George.
Power’s impressive drive back to the front saved his night in terms of Verizon IndyCar Series points.
“What an awesome call by my team to get tires,” Power said. “I screwed it up with another drive through. That’s four drive throughs this year. Anyone who says I don’t get drive throughs are crazy – I get them every race. I’m just happy for the Verizon car to finish second.
“Another drive-through. That’s four drive-throughs in five races. That’s not good enough. I don’t know if I would have gotten Ed. He 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 of Team Penske was third to give Chevrolet a sweep of the top three positions. Simon Pagenaud was the highest finishing Honda driver in fourth and Scott Dixon rounded out the top five in a Chevrolet.
Montoya criticized IndyCar officials for the final restart of the race, as he believed Carpenter jumped the restart.
“The thing that is disappointing is they have some cones for the restart and he went probably two or three hundred yards before,” Montoya said. “How does it work? I mean what is the rule? If you are going to let them restart anywhere then don’t put the cones. But if you put the cones it’s like NASCAR you have the two lines and you have to respect them. Hopefully they really look at it because I think it was a bit of a joke.”
Carpenter scoffed at Montoya’s criticism.
“I figured he’d be miffed,” the winner said of Montoya. “I was kind of sick of him. He was lagging back, trying to lay back, so yeah; I was slowing down because he was lagging back. I didn’t want him to get a jump on me. I’m the leader of the race. You’re not supposed to lag back. We talked about that in the drivers’ meeting. If he wants to talk to me about it, I’ll be happy to. He ended up finishing third anyway, right, so it doesn’t matter.”