Ed Carpenter, the owner of Ed Carpenter Racing, decided in November that he would only drive on ovals where he has proven to perform the best.
Carpenter skipped the first four races of the IndayCar season, but still managed to win the top pole position. As the stepson of Tony George, founder and CEO of the Indiana Racing League, he has a long history in the sport and is considered one of the top contenders for Sunday’s 98th Indy 500.
Here’s what you need to know about one of the most prominent drivers in NASCAR:
1. He’s Won the Pole in Back-to-Back Years
In last year’s 97th Indy 500, the one-car team beat out Team Penske and Andretti Autosport in to claim a $100,000 bonus and 15 IZOD IndyCar Series championship points in 2013’s Pole race, thanks to Carpenter’s victory. Watch the video above of Carpenter’s first-place finish.
This year, Carpenter clinched the pole victory when he pushed James Hinchcliffe from the top spot while posting a 4-lap average of 231.067 mph.
After dominating the final two corners on the last lap, he was sure he was going to win the pole.
2. He Crashed On Pole Day 2012
Crashes at the Indy are extremely dangerous based on the makeup of the standard IndyCar. The open-wheel cars are lightweight and have an open cockpit which serves as little protection when drivers speed around the track at speeds of over 220 mph. In qualifiers, the races are almost more competitive as cars push to get a spot in the actual race and potentially in the front of the starting grid.
Ed Carpenter’s car was crashed pretty badly, but he walked away untouched. Oriol Servia and Bryan Clauson were the two other driver that crashed on Pole Day 2012 when both of their cars hit the wall hard coming out of a turn.
3. He Has Never Won an Indy 500
For all of Carpenter’s history in Indianapolis, he’s never won an Indy 500 — something he’s hoping to rectify on Sunday.
4. His Stepfather, Tony George, Is the Founder of the Indy Racing League
Carpenter’s stepfather, Tony George, introduced Carpenter to racing. There came a point when Carpenter wanted to go out and make a living on his own, so George bought the Indianapolis home in which he had grown up for Carpenter.
George’s maternal grandfather, Tony Hulman, was the former Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner, which is why George spent most of his life there. Carpenter paid the bills for the home and ended up making something of himself after graduating from Butler in 2003.
From his driveway, he could see the north grandstand of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
George told USA Today:
“It was out of our family for 35 years. But not much had changed. It had the same pea gravel rock roof as it did when I was a kid.”
Carpenter told USA that the house represented his dream of winning the Indianapolis 500, which hasn’t changed since he was a kid.
George told the paper:
“All of what we did was to help prepare him to win the Indianapolis 500.”
5. He Met his Wife, Heather, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Carpenter met his wife, Heather, while Heather was working as a nurse for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s medical center.
Heather graduated from Anderson High School and from Purdue University in 2002. Ed and Heather went on their first date on May 15, 2003.
Heather Carpenter and her hubby got married on November 8, 2005, they have three children together: Makenna, 5, Ryder, 3, and Cruz, 4 months. Heather Carpenter and her family live in Indianapolis, where she is president of the Indy Family Foundation, which puts on the Festival on Main to raise money to support racing families in a crisis, plus takes care of her job as a real state agent with Encore Sotheby’s International Realty.