Ed Carpenter isn’t interested in talking about what led to the quick demise of Carpenter Fisher Hartman Racing. At Tuesday’s Verizon IndyCar Series media day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the driver-owner of what’s now known as Ed Carpenter Racing didn’t offer many details about the recent split.
“As we got into the off-season, towards the end of it, all sorts of things we don’t need to get into – related to different things, partnership changes, structure changes – that really precipitated us going back to Ed Carpenter Racing when everything shook out,” Carpenter told media outlets including IndyCar Examiner.
“The important thing to have everyone understand is that the plans that we have now are the same as what the plans were when we were CFH. We’re running Josef [Newgarden] full time. I’m going to be running ovals. Hopefully we’ll run the 20 car at a full-time level. We’re not there yet, but we still have a little time to make it happen,” he continued. “We’re in good shape. We have all our people, essentially, back in key positions. We’re excited for a strong 2016.”
The normally cool IndyCar veteran maintained his usual all-business demeanor when asked how big of a setback the separation has been. “I don’t think it was a setback,” he continued. “That’s where I think there’s some misconception. The announcement that you’re changing names seems dramatic, like there’s a whole lot going on.
“The reality is our off-season started after Sonoma was over. [That’s when] our preparation for this year started. It’s been continuous and ongoing and very productive. We changed names, but everything going on in the race shop, employees, preparation, plan, it’s been ongoing…Key positions, management, structure, for the most part it’s the same.
“It’s a different group of owners that we report to as management. But I don’t feel like it’s a setback as far as getting ready for the season or changing our goals or changing our focus. That’s been a continuation from the start of 2015 to now.”
Carpenter is in a unique position amongst the league, being both the only active owner-driver and the only competitor who does not drive every track on the schedule. Each job title comes with its own concerns. From a driving perspective, he has until the end of March to find someone else to drive the road and street courses for the 2016 season, as Luca Filippi did for the No. 20 last year.
“We’re looking at all scenarios,” he said of whether he’s any closer to finding a teammate. “I talk to Luca and his management team frequently. I wouldn’t say that’s off the table. It’s trying to find the right deal and a deal that we all feel comfortable with. We’ll see what happens.”
When it comes to ownership, he’s got a whole other set of responsibilities and sometimes those can be just as much of a challenge as the races. “This will be the start of the fifth year of [the] owning-driving combination,” he reflected. “There are times when it would be nice just to be worried about driving. At the same time, the rewards you get from ownership and the organization and all the people we get to work with, it’s a lot of fun when things go well.
“We’re really dedicated to making our team successful long-term, sustainable, having good results on track and winning races,” Carpenter concluded. “I’m enjoying it. I think you continue to learn. Each and every year you try to get better, analyze yourself, figure out what we can do to do a better job. But I do enjoy it.”
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