CARPENTER: Preparing For Pocono
LONG POND, Pa. — It’s been nearly four weeks since we won the Verizon IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway, and I’m anxious to get back in the Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet.
It is especially exciting to go back to Pocono Raceway.
Last year the Verizon IndyCar Series returned to the “Tricky Triangle” for the first time since 1989 and everyone really enjoyed it. Turn one at Pocono is one of the most challenging corners in all of the series.
I just think that track really is good for our kind of race cars. All three turns are banked differently. Back when they built the track in 1970, they made one corner patterned after Trenton (turn one), one corner after Indy (turn two) and one corner after Milwaukee (turn three). So that is difficult to set up a race car. There is a lot of compromise with the three separate turns.
Last year, our Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevy wasn’t as good as we wanted it. We felt the car was getting better as the race went on. But we only ran 400 miles. This year we are running 500 miles and you can have some extra laps to dial in the car for the finish.
We tested there a few weeks ago and I think we learned a little more for this weekend’s race.
I feel like our team is pretty confident coming into the Pocono 500 after our oval performances at Indy and Texas. At Indy, we won the pole and we were in position to challenge for the win with 25 laps remaining. It just didn’t work out.
This year was my 11th start at Indy and that was the best position late in the race that I have had. It’s so tough to be in contention at the end of the race. I don’t know if I’ll get that kind of chance again. So my emotions probably spilled out.
It felt great to come back in my second race of the year and win at Texas. I have raced more Indy car races there than any other track and I wanted to win it badly. TMS General Manager Eddie (Gossage) has been a strong supporter of Indy car racing since the track opened. And I wanted to shoot off those pistols in the victory lane. That was fun and our crew membes all got cowboy hats, too.
Since Texas our team has not been idle. Two days after Texas, we went to Iowa Speedway for a test, then to Milwaukee and then to Pocono. Last week, we had the doubleheader on the street course in Houston. To be honest, it has been a grind on all of the IndyCar Series teams.
This weekend is the second of four consecutive weekends for the series. I know that NASCAR does many weeks in a row, but they use a variety of chassis for the different tracks. We use the same two chassis all of the time.