Back in 2011 Ed Carpenter and Sarah Fisher teamed up and the reward was Carpenter’s first IndyCar Series win as a driver and Fisher’s first as a team owner.
Saturday afternoon, it was officially announced the tandem would reunite in the Verizon IndyCar Series for the 2015 season. Ed Carpenter Racing and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing will merge the two teams into one multi-car effort.
Currently, Ed Carpenter Racing features Carpenter on the oval tracks and Mike Conway on the street and road courses. J.R. Hildebrand drove a second entry for ECR in this year’s Indianapolis 500. Fisher’s driver is young American Josef Newgarden from Nashville, Tenn.
Also, Andretti Autosport will announce on Sunday morning that 2012 IndyCar Series champion and this year’s Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay has signed a contract extension with the team. There had been rumors that Team Penske was interested in adding Hunter-Reay to the operation that currently includes IndyCar Series points leader Will Power, three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves and 1999 CART champion and 2000 Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya.
“I’ve been close to them since I drove for them,” Carpenter told FOXSports.com of the merger. “We’ve been trying to find ways to grow our team for a while and it’s not an easy thing to do to find the budget. Both teams felt moving forward to the next year it’s more important than ever to be a part of a multi-car team so that is what sparked the conversations that we are doing we everything we can to put the best team we can.”
Earlier on Saturday, Fisher talked about the benefits of having a multi-car operation that would combine the best of her team along with the best of ECR.
“It’s a difficult environment for a single-car team and is very tough from a commercial standpoint,” Fisher said. “It takes a while as a one-car operation to get all of your objectives done in testing. I think we have done a good job doing that this year. Our engineers and Josef have prioritized on the testing side and have been fast as a lot of places.
“Commercially it has been tough and I hope we find a solution for that.”
Fisher believes a merger would be just what Newgarden needs to go from contender to race winner. In July he finished second to Hunter-Reay at Iowa Speedway.
“Josef is a class act and he is the face of what I’m trying to accomplish,” she said. “If there is a way I can give him more tools to do my job than I need to evaluate those opportunities.”
“That’s a priority with me, working with Josef Newgarden and seeing him improve as a driver and become a winner,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter had planned on making the announcement Sunday at the Milwaukee Mile before news reports forced the team to make the official confirmation on Saturday.
Ed Carpenter Racing has been the more successful of the two teams with back-to-back Indianapolis 500 poles and three wins in 2014. Conway won at Long Beach and the second Toronto race.
“We’ve had a really successful year as a one-car team but to be able to continue to climb, be fore consistent and sustain the business we need to grow the team,” Carpenter said. “This was the quickest and seemingly best way to do it right now. We are really excited about this new opportunity it is giving us. We still have some details to work out and we both need to finish out our years and finish strong.”
Fisher has an impressive facility next to the Dallara manufacturing plant on Main Street in Speedway, Indiana – just a few blocks from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Carpenter currently is a Chevrolet team while Fisher uses Honda engines.
“The intention is to move into Sarah’s shop because Wink Hartman owns the building and we rent one,” Carpenter said. “Derrick Walker has been a great employee and landlord, too. We’ll miss that shop but moving a shop for us is not one of those things.
“It’s too early to say which engine we will use right now. I race a Chevrolet and I’m proud to be part of their team and we planning on finishing the season out right now. But we are open to hearing what both engine manufacturers have to offer. The only thing that makes it hard right now is we are both on competing engine manufacturers.”
When Carpenter was the driver for Fisher’s team the two went into victory lane together in what would ultimately be the final races of the 2011 season at Kentucky Speedway. After forming his own team in 2012, Carpenter drove to victory at Auto Club Speedway at the end of that season.
“Dollar General left the team in 2011 and I had an opportunity to start this team before I knew what they were fully going to offer me,” Carpenter said. “I think things played out exactly the way they were supposed to. We had good success together and I’m sure we are going to have success together again.
“This is just a natural fit for both sides. What it’s all about is getting stronger and more competitive.”
Be sure to catch Bruce Martin’s Honda IndyCar Report on RACEDAY on FOX Sports Radio every Sunday from 6-8 a.m. Eastern Time.