IndyCar owner Ed Carpenter now drives his car only on ovals. He does it well.
Carpenter stayed in front of Will Power during a two-lap shootout to win at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday night after a late caution night wiped out his huge lead. The victory came two weeks after a late accident took away any chance to win the Indianapolis 500.
“It’s just good to bounce back,” Carpenter said. “Nothing really totally makes up for missed opportunity at the Speedway. But at the same time, it always feels good to win, especially a place like this. … This is a big win for us.”
On the final green-flag stop with 35 laps left, Carpenter beat polesitter and season points leader Power off pit road. Team Penske driver Power made things worse when he was penalized for speeding out of the pits.
“That’s four drive-thru penalties in five races,” Power lamented.
Power was sixth, and Carpenter had a lead of about 18 seconds over Juan Pablo Montoya, when Takuma Sato’s engine blew and his car caught fire with 10 laps left.
While the top four cars stayed out during that caution, Power went in for fresh tires. That gave him the chance to make up some ground, and he made a big charge after the final restart to finish second, only a half-second back.
With another lap, the outcome might have been different.
“I don’t know. Ed was awfully strong,” Power said. “He’s an awesome driver and it would have been a good battle at the end. … It was a lot of fun.”
Carpenter’s third career victory, all on ovals, came after leading 90 of 248 laps.
After winning at Kentucky for Sarah Fisher Racing in 2011, he started his own team the next year and won the season finale at California. Carpenter was on the pole at Indy the last two seasons, and this year is leaving the road and street courses to Mike Conway.
Conway won at Long Beach the second race this season and was in the cockpit for both races at Detroit last weekend.
So this was the first race for Carpenter since the late crash at Indy with James Hinchcliffe.
“It feels good. There’s no denying the fact that I was really mad after Indy,” Carpenter said. “It’s not that I’m still mad at Hinch, but I’m still mad at the situation and we lost an opportunity. … We’re just going to keep the intensity up and try to keep fighting for wins.”
Carpenter went to the high side to get around Power on lap 182, and within a lap had already pushed ahead by nearly a second. Power led 145 laps.
Montoya finished third, ahead of Simon Pagenaud, Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan — the only drivers to finish on the lead lap. Helio Castroneves, the defending race winner and a four-time winner at Texas, was 10th.
The race was 20 laps longer than last year when Castroneves won. At the end of 228 laps, the length of the 2013 race, Carpenter had a 13 1/2-second lead over Montoya.
Indianapolis 500 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, the Dallas-born driver who has said he “definitely, desperately” wants to win at Texas, had another tough weekend and only finished 135 laps before losing power and oil pressure.
Since winning at Indy, Andretti Motorsport driver Hunter-Reay finished 16th and 19th at the dual races in Detroit and 19th at Texas.
Marco Andretti, his teammate, finished last in the 22-car field after his own mechanical issues.
Andretti started 17th and quickly moved into the top 10 after three laps before his engine blew and the car caught fire while he was trying to get back into the pits. He had to stop on the apron out of Turn 4, then hopped out of the car and walked back to his pit box.
“This one’s frustrating and this one really hurts for the championship too,” said Andretti, who entered the weekend fifth in season points, two spots below Hunter-Reay.Ed Carpenter, IndyCar, Juan Pablo Montoya, Scott Dixon, Texas, Will Power