Wednesday, March 2, 2016

2016 Verizon IndyCar Team-By-Team Preview: Ed Carpenter Racing

When Ed Carpenter Racing and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing merged prior to the 2015 season, it appeared to be a marriage that would benefit all parties and it did. The two teams combined and it saw Josef Newgarden have a breakout season, winning two races and fighting for the championship into the season finale. However, life is a bitch and oil prices have fallen through floor and Wink Hartman had to pull out of the team and Sarah Fisher followed. Now the team is back to Ed Carpenter Racing and money is tight. Will this team be able to repeat its 2015 performance and can this team keep two cars on the grid?

2015 CFH Racing Review:
Wins: 2 (Barber, Toronto)
Poles: 1 (Milwaukee)
Final Championship Positions: 7th (Josef Newgarden), 21st (Luca Filippi), 27th (Ed Carpenter), 31st (J.R. Hildebrand).

2016 Drivers:

Josef Newgarden
The Tennessean had the season we had all been waiting for in 2015. He won two races and could have won another three. Newgarden also scored his first career pole position and first career top ten in the Indianapolis 500 in 2015. He took on the big boys and ended up being one of six championship eligible drivers at the Sonoma season finale only to have a poor pit stop end his hopes of playing stunner. While Newgarden had a great season, there were plenty of occasions where his race ended in the barriers.

Numbers to Remember: 
345- Laps led by Newgarden in 2015, more than any other driver.

10.0- Average finish on ovals in 2015.

14.76- Average finish in his 17 oval starts prior to the 2015 season.

Newgarden will take a step back from 2015 but still have a few good results. I think he will win a race and more specifically win on an oval. He needs to finish more races and not get in as many accidents as he did in 2015. I expect him to be in that scrum for 7th to 14th in the championship but more likely ending up in the top ten than ending up on the outside of the top ten.

Ed Carpenter
With only six races lined up for Carpenter, it is already difficult for him to get good finish, as his opportunities are limited. His first three races ended in retirements, two because of accidents and one because of a mechanical failure. One of those accidents occurred in the Indianapolis 500 and that was after he suffered an accident in qualifying. He would rebound for back-to-back top tens at Milwaukee and Iowa but an engine failure at Pocono ended his season 44 laps early.

Numbers to Remember: 
12.19- Career average finish on short tracks.

5- Consecutive top tens on short tracks.

3- Career top tens in 12 Indianapolis 500 starts. He also has three 11th-place finishes in the Indianapolis 500.

One goal is to make sure the #20 Chevrolet runs all 16 races. Things do not appear to be promising for the car and the talk is the car might not be at St. Petersburg. Losing the #20 for the road/street course races would be a terrible loss for IndyCar. Hopefully ECR can find a partner for Ed Carpenter. While it appears Luca Filippi is moving on to Dale Coyne Racing, there are plenty of drivers on the outside (J.R. Hildebrand, Gabby Chaves, Tristan Vautier, Jack Harvey) who could be a great partner for Carpenter. As for Carpenter himself, I think he will get at least three top tens and at least one top five but I think victory will just be out of his grasp.

The 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series seasons commences with Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 13th. ABC's coverage of the race will begin at 12:30 p.m. ET.