CARPENTER: A Season Of Improvement
There were so many good cars and drivers throughout the whole 200 laps. And you also had to adjust to the conditions. We were so close to being right there, too. We finished 10th and it was very disappointing for me. But overall it was a great month of May for the team.
The middle of the season we showed that we could run up front including the Texas and Iowa races. I thought we had a car to win those events. We had to take fourth at both. I was so excited to race at Pocono too. I wanted to win there badly. The car was wasn’t bad, but we didn’t really have the machine to win that day.
We were getting better at the road and street courses, too. I was a little upset with myself at a couple of those events as I needed to be more aggressive in qualifying and the races.
Coming to Fontana, we had a good test in September there and I was confident again. But we had a trailer fire in Arizona right after the test and the crew was in a tough position to clean up everything and work quickly for Houston.
Houston was a rough weekend. We hit a stalled Hinch (James Hinchcliffe) in the first race and we had our first mechanical DNF of the team in two years in the second race with a clutch problem. So we had to regroup for Fontana.
At Fontana, we did some cool and exciting things as the defending champion and I thank the Auto Club Speedway folks for their hospitality. In practice, I was very upset because the car was not right. Luckily we found the problem and qualified OK (seventh). In the race, our car was good. But with the temperature degrees lower than 2012, other teams had good cars, too.
The ECR/Fuzzy’s crew was excellent again on our pit stops and I was in position to battle for the lead at the end. The car was good on long runs and I was hoping for a good 20 to 25-lap stint at the final run. But the yellow flag came out late (just eight laps left) and Will Power was able to gain a good start and I didn’t have enough time to track him down. Had we had another 10 to 15 laps, I might have pulled it off.
Overall, I could really see our team continuing to make excellent progress through the year. We have a great group of people in our team and superb sponsor in Fuzzy’s Vodka. We are working to make the team even better. Even though we didn’t get a win this year, the pole at Indy and the second at Fontana proved that our team has made great strides in just two years of operation.
We’ll work hard again to prepare for the 2014 season in this offseason and plan to get back to the top of the podium.