Pole Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
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Pole Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Third Pole Award Means a Clean Slate for Ed Carpenter

By Corey Elliot
Ed Carpenter doesn’t shy away from the conversation.

At times, it feels like the Butler graduate welcomes the question: is this finally your year?

On Sunday, the unanimous fan-favorite at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway repeated history when he won the pole for the Indianapolis 500.

A four-lap average of 229.618 cemented Carpenter P1 for the 102 Indianapolis 500, his third Indy 500 pole award of his career. And it didn’t take long before Carpenter was asked about the past.

Next Sunday will be the third time Carpenter has led the field of 33 to the green flag and the second consecutive year he will start the race on the front row.

But Carpenter will be the first to tell you – the pole position means nothing when it’s time to settle it on race day. In fact, since 2013, Carpenter has started on the front row for the Indianapolis 500 three times. And in each of those three starts he’s never finished better than tenth.

“You think about (the past) a lot,” Carpenter said. “We’ve been in this position before and ran a good race where I thought we had a chance to win, but we didn’t really have the right game plan.”

On Sunday, Carpenter gathered around his Fuzzy’s Vodka machine and donned his Verizon Indycar Series pole award hat with his family by his side, his son smiling into the crowd of cameras while holding the cliche giant paycheck. Carpenter appreciates another chance to lead the field to the yard of bricks in this race. He especially loves being able to share this memory with his family now that his children have grown older, he said.

“It certainly brings back memories from the past,” Carpenter said reflecting on 2013 and 2014.  “Probably the thing that’s the most different and fun about (this time) is my kids are getting older and really know what’s going on. It just makes it even more special.”

But if there was one thing that was obvious about Carpenter as he climbed out of his Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet it’s the fact that he knows better than to be too excited about grabbing the pole position. If nothing else, he knows now better than he ever has that starting from the pole can make life easier in the early stages of the race, but it guarantees nothing when push comes to shove and the laps are winding down.

“I’ve been around here long enough – there have been (unfortunate) things that have happened, and you never know how many more chances you’re going to get,” Carpenter said. “I feel like we’ve learned a lot. I feel like I’ve gotten better since 2014. We’ve got a great package with Chevrolet and ECR and hopefully we’ll be able to be in the mix on Sunday.”

Emptying the notebook

  • Ed Carpenter had everyone on their feet inside Indianapolis Motor Speedway when he turned his first of four qualifying laps at a speed of 230.088 mph. During his post-qualifications press conference, Carpenter was appreciative of the support he’s gained over the years.

“I’ve been around long enough to build a fanbase,” Carpenter said. “I love this town. My wife and I try to do as much as we can in the community. It’s nice to feel the support for us during the month of may.”

  • Monday will be the last chance for fans to see all 33 qualified cars on the track before Carb Day on Friday. Indycar will have one practice before the Indy Lights Series takes to the famed 2.5 mile oval to prepare for Friday. Below is a schedule of track activity for Monday.

Monday, May 21st at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

  • 12:00pm – Public Gates Open

  • 12:30pm – 04:00pm – Indianapolis 500 Practice

  • 4:30pm – 06:00pm – Indy Lights Practice

  • 6:00pm – Public Gates Close

Corey Elliot is a freelance journalist who is an accredited member of the media