Carpenter and Hinchcliffe discuss controversial Indy 500 crash

Ed Carpenter and James Hinchcliffe (hidden) crash as Will Power takes evasive action. (Photo: Pete Kirles/LAT Photographic)

INDIANAPOLIS – Ed Carpenter is the “Hometown Boy” of the Indianapolis 500. The Butler University graduate has deep roots at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as his mother is married to Tony George, the founder of the IndyCar Series and former president of the Speedway.

Carpenter has earned his place in Indy 500 history, however. He has won the pole for the past two Indianapolis 500s – this year with a four-lap average of 231.067 miles per hour in a Dallara/Chevrolet. But it was James Hinchcliffe who led the first nine laps after he started alongside Carpenter in the middle of Row 1 and passed the pole sitter in the first turn.

Although Carpenter would regain the lead on Lap 10, it was an omen of things to come when the same two drivers would crash in Turn 1 just 25 laps from the checkered flag.

It was the end result of a three-wide battle that also included Townsend Bell and left Carpenter furious at Hinchcliffe for, what he believed, was an unnecessary move for that stage of the race.

“It was an amateur move,” Carpenter said. “Hinch (James Hinchcliffe) tried to make three wide in Turn1 with 25 laps to go. Not a smart move. It wrecked both of our races. I told him if he didn’t have a concussion last week that I would have punched him in the face. It wasn’t a green-white-checkered situation. Of all of the guys out there, I wouldn’t have thought it would be Hinch.

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“I am pretty good friends with him and those guys at Andretti. I think he just didn’t use his head right then. I totally believe we were right in the mix with Ryan (Hunter-Reay), Helio (Castroneves) and Marco (Andretti). I was running with Ryan right then and we had swapped the lead a few times. We got a little fortunate in the middle of the race when we blistered a right rear tire and had to pit earlier than we wanted. We were able to hold off the leaders then when the yellow came out. I was back up front and the car felt good. We were just trying to figure out how to set a guy up for the last lap of the race. It just stinks.”  

Carpenter’s car had experienced a blistered tire and he had to pit putting him off sequence to the other contenders in the race. Once he was back in sequence, he was back at the front of the field and ready to challenge for the victory before the incident in Turn 1.

Hinchcliffe was disappointed at the outcome, and it ruined one of the great comeback stories this month. Hinchcliffe had suffered a concussion when he was hit with the end plate off the front wing from Justin Wilson’s car in Turn 7 of the May 10 Grand Prix of Indianapolis. He was not cleared to drive until two days before qualifications, when he passed a closed concussion test on May 15.

Hinchcliffe bounced back from that injury to start in the middle of Row 1 and was among the drivers expected to contend for victory in Sunday’s race.

He mastered the three-wide start – it was the three-wide restart that didn’t work out for the driver from Toronto.

Carpenter angry at Hinchcliffe following crash

"You know, it could have been the last restart and you have to go for it,” Hinchcliffe said. “Ed gave me the room initially. I honestly don’t think Townsend (Bell) knew we were three-wide. I haven’t seen the replay yet, but from what I saw Townsend came down into Ed, who came down into me. I was the last guy there, so I have to take a portion of the blame for sure.

“I feel bad for Ed. I knew Townsend had popped out, but I honestly didn’t think he’d hold the outside. You just can’t do that here. Partially my fault. Partially Townsend’s fault. One hundred percent not Ed’s fault."

Bell was the only driver of the three that was able to continue in the race. But his day would come to a crushing end when he destroyed his KV Racing Dallara/Chevrolet in the Turn 2 wall that caused the race to be stopped to repair the SAFER Barrier.

"I thought I was side-by-side with just Ed in Turn 1,” Bell said. “I didn’t realize someone else, I think it was Hinch maybe, had forced three-wide, which is pretty optimistic. I haven’t seen a replay but I would guess Ed didn’t have anywhere to go. I was giving him room for one car; I didn’t know there was a third one that had ducked in. Nonetheless, I thought we would just hang on there in the top five. We didn’t really have anything to charge to the front, given the way the toe was knocked out.

"I got hit in that three-wide on the restart in the left rear and earlier in the race with (Tony) Kanaan when I was inside of him and he was squeezing me, I clipped the wall with the left rear. It just knocked it too much out of toe. It was loose all race and then in the end, I was just trying to go for it to see if we could get to the front. You don’t get those chances very often, but unfortunately the left rear just took too much pounding during the day to make it work and it got away from me. I hate to end that way. That was a pretty good hit. I’ll be pretty sore."

As an owner/driver in the Verizon IndyCar Series, Carpenter is usually one of the most mild-mannered drivers in the sport.

On Sunday, he was furious.