After all three of Ed Carpenter Racing‘s cars got into the “Fast Nine” qualifying shoot-out for the 2018 Indianapolis 500, the team’s drivers, Ed Carpenter, Spencer Pigot and Danica Patrick have spoken about how pleased they were with their grid spots and how well the team has performed so far this month.
The two days of qualifying saw, undoubtedly, one of the best performances for the Ed Carpenter Racing squad in their six seasons of competing in the Verizon IndyCar Series. All three of their entrants made it into the top-nine pole position shoot-out, once again proving that ECR are well and truly a match for the bigger teams at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Team Penske was looking really strong as the drivers made their runs for the pole. Simon Pagenaud had laid down an impressive gauntlet of a 228.761-mph run. It would take a fantastic four-lap run to usurp Pagenaud. However, Carpenter was capable of doing it. His first lap was a mind-boggling 230.088-mph, with the following three laps being enough to set a staggering four-lap average of 229.618-mph.
Just one car, Helio Castroneves‘s #3 Penske, was left to run after Carpenter, but the Brazilian veteran could only manage eighth place. This meant, that for the third time in his career, Ed Carpenter would start the Indianapolis 500 on pole position.
“I’ve just got to thank my team,” Carpenter said after climbing from his #20 Chevrolet, “That first lap blew my mind.
“I figured we could run a 229 mph based on last night. My run last night actually wasn’t very good. The car wasn’t near as good as we’ve been. So, I knew had more left but I wasn’t expecting a 230 mph, but the whole ECR team, especially the guys on my No. 20 car, they’ve put so much love into this car and it means everything to me to put us in a position like this.
“And to be able to share the top nine in this whole thing with Spencer [Pigot], his first time in the top nine with Preferred Freezer, and Danica [Patrick] with GoDaddy, we’re super happy to be here and, obviously, it couldn’t be possible without Fuzzy’s Vodka. Hopefully, we can keep doing this a long time.”
As Carpenter mentioned, it was also an impressive first “Fast Nine” qualification for Spencer Pigot in the #21 car; who will line-up in sixth place on Sunday.
Spencer had made several appearances in the top ten during the week of practice in the run-up to qualifying, but to be able to get into the top nine when the session finally came around was a great result for the twenty-four-year-old in what will be his third attempt at the Indy 500. Before yesterday’s qualifying session, his best grid spot for the Indy 500 had been way down in thirty-first place.
“It feels great to be in an awesome qualifying run here.” Pigot said in the post-qualifying press conference, “I have massively improved from every other time I’ve run in this race, so I’m definitely excited about that and the potential for us here next Sunday.
“ECR [Ed Carpenter Racing] has done a great job this year and our team is doing really well. I feel like Ed [Carpenter] has a really good shot for this race, but then again, I think all three of the ECR drivers do. It’s really great to be a part of this team, and I’m excited for what is in store this year in Indy.”
The third and final Ed Carpenter Racing car, the #13 GoDaddy Chevrolet of Danica Patrick, ensured that all three ECR drivers made it into the “Fast Nine”, just barely fast enough to stay ahead of Alexander Rossi in Saturday’s first day of qualifying. Many had wondered how well Patrick would do on her return to IndyCar and the Indy 500 after nearly seven years away, but her effort to get into the “Fast Nine” was impressive enough to silence some of the cynics.
Patrick would improve upon her run on Saturday when she made her “Fast Nine” run on Sunday. Her 228.090-mph average was just one-hundredth of a second off of team-mate Pigot, but it was enough to get her seventh on the grid, ahead of both Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon. The race this weekend will be her last planned event before retiring from motorsport, so she will be hoping that she can go out with a fantastic result.
“Before I went out, I kept saying I wanted it to be a boring run, well, as boring as it can be when you’re going 230 mph or more,” said Patrick after the session yesterday, “I just wanted everything to be predictable and flow really well. I was able to chase the car with my cockpit adjustments and try and keep the speed in the car the whole run.
“These are tough conditions when it’s hot and humid out here, and the wind is up a little, but overall, my run was as boring as you can possibly get. I’m happy with it, and looking forward to next Sunday.”
The three Ed Carpenter Racing drivers will be out on track later today for the penultimate practice session prior to the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500. The focus today will be solely on race runs in what is usually one of the most entertaining practice sessions of the Indy 500 event. After that, just one practice session will remain on Friday’s “Carb Day.” The Indianapolis 500 itself will take place on Sunday, May 27.