“Perfect” Carpenter cars “suit Chevy powerband”

The Ilmor-built Chevrolet units were blamed for an apparent underperformance on Fast Friday when the BorgWarner turbos are turned up from race boost – 1.3-bar – to qualifying boost, 1.5-bar, particularly when Team Penske proved to be mediocre on the speed charts.

But Ed Carpenter Racing in particular appeared to show this was a myth, when both VeeKay and team owner/driver Ed Carpenter made it through to the Fast Nine. Then today, in the shootout for pole, both VeeKay and Carpenter turned 232mph opening laps, fell less than 0.2mph short of P1, and will start the Indy 500 from third and fourth on the grid.

Asked why the ECR cars excelled when the next highest Chevys – the Arrow McLaren SPs of Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist – will start 12th and 14th, VeeKay replied: “I think our car really suits the Chevy power band. The team just puts a lot of work in it.

“It was super close with Ed, very close. I did beat my boss, which is pretty cool! But, no, it was very tough out there. I gave it everything I had. Yeah, just missed out a little bit on Scott and Colton.

“I’m very happy. This feels like a win, like a pole for us. Yeah, I told the team, my engineer Matt Barnes, ‘If you trim out, please do not tell me. If you’re going to make the car any sketchier, just don’t tell me. I’m going to stay flat no matter what.’ They did not trim, but yeah, it was on the limit. Really a perfect car…

“The four laps I did was on the limit. I couldn’t have gone any faster really. I had a big moment in the last lap, first corner. Yeah, kept it on track, kept it flat. Very happy, very grateful for the team for all the sleepless nights, all the hard work. Definitely also big kudos to Chevy for giving me the great power to bring me to the front row.

“If I think back about it, I should have lifted [T1, Lap 4] but I didn’t. I’m very happy. Yeah, I think that’s all I could do.”

Last year, VeeKay qualified fourth, the only Chevrolet in the Fast Nine. When asked how different the two runs were, he replied: “We’re quicker this year. It was quite a bit different. There was a big, big temperature change between yesterday and today’s run. It’s way hotter but I had the confidence that the car was going to be very stuck.

“Last year the four laps were quite easy, like there was no loose moments or understeer. Right now I did my first lap and it was already quite neutral. Then the last lap, Turn 1, I don’t know why I stayed flat, but I did it. I kept it on track. It was very close.

“It was definitely very hard but I think that even made the car faster. We were just so on the limit, it was perfect for me.

“The team put so much work into it. I know that everyone at the team wants to return to the front row. Yeah, preferably pole. Was just not enough today. I’m over the moon with front row, super happy. I think we can definitely go for a 500 win from here.”

VeeKay said he is also confident about his pace in race trim and his fuel mileage.

“I definitely feel very good,” said the 20-year-old Dutchman, who scored his first IndyCar win last week in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the IMS road course. “We have a very strong car, especially in race trim we’re very strong. I think also the Chevy power is great in race trim. Very excited for that…

“I’m just very happy with how the car behaved. All the work from the team was very, very good. We have a very strong qualifying car, but also in race trim, especially with only two cars in front of me, it’s going to be very good. I’m very excited to give it everything next week.

“We tried [fuel consumption] last week when we had all these race trim runs. I tried to run out front, tried some different fuel maps to see what pace I could be at to lead and not be passed, or follow another car without him pulling away. We felt really good with saving fuel.

“I don’t know what the strategy is going to be for the race. I feel good while pushing 100 percent, but I also feel good while saving fuel and being conservative. I think we really can give a big hit for the win for the 500.”

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