Ed Carpenter has cultivated one of the best partners/sponsors in IndyCar during the past decade with Stuart Reed. He’s an Indy 500 fan, likes Tony George and his stepson, loves ovals and sometimes comes to races and never even makes it down to the pits because he doesn’t want to be a bother. Reed made his money in nursing homes and Fuzzy’s Vodka, which is displayed on Ed’s car, is pretty much his hobby.
Carpenter’s little Indianapolis-based team nearly stole last year’s Indianapolis 500 from the big boys as the ex-USAC regular won the pole, led the most laps and finished second to Will Power. That probably kept Reed engaged for another 10 years but earlier this week the only owner/driver in the IndyCar Series added a little security to his operation in the form of Scuderia Corsa.
Giacomo Mattioli, the team principal of Scuderia Corsa, is going to field a car for Ed Jones in 13 of the 17 races next year using ECR’s equipment, personnel and experience. Mattioli had considered starting his own team after Oriol Servia gave him a good run at Indy last May but the man who runs Ferraris in the GT Daytona of IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship wisely opted to join an established team for now.
“I think Giacomo wants to get more involved some day and there may come a point in time when he wants to have his own team, but maybe realized this was the best approach until he figures out what he wants to do,” said Carpenter, who is running Spencer Pigot full-time in his No. 21 Chevy in 2019. “I think he sees an opportunity to cross-promote sports cars and Indy cars and add some more value to his partners. He’s a good guy and he was at our test at the Speedway on Wednesday, so he’s excited and ready to get started.”
Things are basically unchanged for this three-car effort except for the addition of a new engineer to replace Allen MacDonald, who has switched to Rahal Letterman Lanigan for next year.
“We’re in good shape on cars and people, had a little turnover as always,” continued Carpenter. “We hired Peter Craig to replace McDonald — he’s finishing up at Furniture Row in NASCAR after a couple years with Andretti. He was at our test yesterday as well.”
It was because of Carpenter’s partnership with Sarah Fisher and Wink Hartman that Josef Newgarden got a chance to mature, win races and finally get noticed by Roger Penske. Ed gave Pigot a taste of Indy cars in 2016 before letting him run all the street and road courses in 2017. Last year Pigot got the full-time nod for ECR and was re-upped for 2019 a week ago.
Jones impressed everyone in 2017 as a rookie with Dale Coyne and was rewarded with the No. 10 car for Chip Ganassi in 2018 but wasn’t invited back for 2019. He got the opportunity with ECR because of Scuderia Corsa, some sponsor money and the fact Jordan King couldn’t put a deal together to return.
“Ed is a good racer but the hardest part of this deal was not doing something with Jordan,” said Carpenter of the English driver that competed in all the road and street shows in 2018. “I believe in him, I liked him a lot and he deserves to be here. But he wants to be full-time, I knew that and he knew that, and we couldn’t get there.”
The three-time Indy polesitter ran all day Wednesday in the Firestone tire test and called it productive.
“After the first session and at the end of the day IndyCar sat down with all the drivers, went through everything and got the collective opinions. I thought IndyCar did a good job and I think they were happy how everyone worked together,” Carpenter added. “The tire is definitely better and we ran some of the (aero) changes IndyCar was proposing but I wouldn’t feel comfortable saying it’s going to be a totally different kind of race next May.
“It was a productive test and we’ll be better off as a series, but it was 52 degrees and the track temp was only 82, so we all know it probably won’t be like that in six months.”