FOLLOW
US:




02/13 2018

INDYCAR OWNER ED CARPENTER, DANICA PATRICK COULD BE CLOSE TO INDY 500 DEAL 2018 Indianapolis 500 to be final race of her career BY:  BRUCE MARTIN

 

 

Ed Carpenter has emerged as the “heir apparent” to be Danica Patrick’s team owner in the 102nd Indianapolis 500. The owner/driver of Ed Carpenter Racing told Autoweek Saturday at ISM Raceway near Phoenix that the two sides continue to talk but the final decision has yet to be made on Patrick’s driving a third ECR Chevrolet in this year’s 500-Mile Race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Patrick announced last November that the 2018 Indianapolis 500 would be the final race of her racing career.

“It’s getting close to the point where we have to make a decision,” Carpenter told Autoweek on Saturday.  “Any time we have run an extra car, it’s had to be the right situation with the right driver with the right partners involved. Until we get the right pieces put together there is no way to move forward.

“There is a still a strong possibility we could do it but until something is finished you won’t hear much.”

Carpenter is a two-time Indianapolis 500 pole winner who started first in 2013 and 2014 and started last year’s race second in the field of 33. He was in serious contention to win in 2013 when he was out front for 37 laps and again in 2014 when he led 26 laps before he was taken out in a crash on a restart by James Hinchcliffe.

Carpenter is owner/driver of the No. 20 Chevrolet on the ovals with Jordan King of England in that car for the street and road course races on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule. The No. 21 entry is driven by Spencer Pigot in all races.

ECR is considering entering a third Chevrolet, as it has done in the past at the Indy 500. Patrick is in line for that ride. She was also under consideration for a Chevrolet at Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, an Indy 500-only effort that is run by general manager Chase Selman, who is married to Patrick’s sister Brooke. But once GoDaddy announced it was sponsoring the final two races of Patrick’s career including next Sunday’s 60th Daytona 500 NASCAR race, Carpenter’s team became a serious contender to sign the driver.

“I think Ed’s team can give Danica the speed she is looking for in the race,” said two-time Indianapolis 500 winning driver Al Unser Jr., who works for Harding Racing in the IndyCar Series. “I think that is the reason why she will end up with Ed rather than Dreyer & Reinbold because they have been in contention to win the Indy 500 in the past and that is what she’s looking for.”
Carpenter admitted Patrick and GoDaddy would be great partners for his team at the Indy 500.

“They certainly check most of the boxes,” Carpenter told Autoweek. “Danica has always been strong at Indy. She has good partners. There is always more to it than that, so we’ll see what happens.

“Clearly, we are busy right now testing in Phoenix and things at Daytona are kicking off today. I know how my mind works when I have something to focus on, so I don’t think anything will be determined until after the Daytona 500. I do think this would be a good thing. We’ll have to see how it all plays out and see where we get.”

Patrick has been a star at the Indianapolis 500 ever since her rookie season in 2005, when she started fourth, became the first female ever to lead the Indy 500, was in front for 19 laps and in the lead until seven laps to go when she was passed by eventual winner Dan Wheldon. She finished eighth at Indy in 2006 and 2007 and 22nd in 2008 — a little more than one month after she became the first female driver ever to win a race in a major closed course racing series with her victory at Twin Ring Motegi.

In 2009, she finished third at Indy. That remains the highest finish ever by a female race driver. She was sixth in 2010 and 10 in 2011.

She became a full-time NASCAR Cup driver in 2012 before announcing at Homestead-Miami Speedway last November that she would retire after running the Daytona 500 and the Indy 500 in 2018.

“I think it’s cool she had made a decision to come to Indy to end her career,” Carpenter said. “Like a lot of drivers, she was on the map, but Indy is what established her to the mainstream. AJ Foyt always credits Indy as making him. I think it’s fitting that’s the way she wants to go out.

“I hope for her wherever she ends up at Indy that it goes well for her.”