Carpenter not sure why things went south at Indy 500

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INDIANAPOLIS – Ed Carpenter returns to his role as team owner this week at the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear, following a frustrating result in his 2019 NTT IndyCar Series driving debut at Sunday’s 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.

The series’ lone current owner/driver left the biggest race of the year dissatisfied with a sixth-place finish after a promising performance fell apart in the late stages.

There was plenty of optimism going into this year’s edition of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Not only did Carpenter lead a 2-3-4 assault for Ed Carpenter Racing in qualifying, he also led 65 laps and finished runner-up for the race in 2018.

With great momentum heading into the 2019 race, the three-time Indy 500 pole sitter craftily kept himself positioned in the top three for a majority of the race. He led seven laps in the No. 20 Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet but appeared content hovering near the front and waiting for “go time”

However, a late caution pushed Carpenter’s race into chaos after the final restart on Lap 187 of 200. The 38-year-old Indianapolis resident saw the handling on his car fade in the closing laps and he dropped three spots.

“We were up there where we wanted to be most of the day, trying to just play the game,” Carpenter said.

“At the end, we just didn't have anything. I got loose for the first time in the day, which was a little weird and it just didn't really seem to be running that quick. I thought sitting P3 that last restart was going to be a good opportunity, but on the start I just couldn't get it rolling. Just didn't have anything, pretty disappointed in myself and for the team.”

As disappointed as he was, Carpenter was also confused over the sudden change in his car’s handling after it had been right where he needed it the first three-quarters of the race.

“I really don't know what to make of it because we were so bad at the end compared to what we had been,” he said. “I'm disappointed. Happy (that) Chevrolet won with Simon (Pagenaud) and Mr. (Roger) Penske. … Happy to see them win, but (we) didn't come here for sixth.”

The outcome takes on more significance for Carpenter, who competes only on the ovals with Ed Jones driving the No. 20 ECR Chevy on road and street courses. It’s doubly disappointing for Carpenter since he must wait another year for a chance to capture a hometown victory.

“We just didn't have the speed that we had had at the end of the day for some reason,” said Carpenter, who saw teammates Jones and Spencer Pigot finish 13th and 14th, respectively. “I don't know. I don't know. Standing here in pit lane, it's hard for me to tell you why we failed here.

“I'm happy for the month the team had, don't get me wrong, I don't want to sound like a whiny ass, but a sixth is a failure to me.”

Practice for the Detroit doubleheader weekend begins Friday, with sessions at 10:55 a.m., 2:50 p.m. and 3:50 p.m. ET that all stream live on INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold.

Action from the Raceway at Belle Isle Park continues on Saturday, with Race 1 qualifying at 10:45 a.m. (livestream on INDYCAR Pass, taped telecast at noon on NBCSN) and the first 70-lap race of the weekend airing at 3 p.m. on NBC.

Sunday’s schedule features qualifying airing at 10:30 a.m. on NBCSN and race coverage starting at 3 p.m.

Carpenter returns behind the wheel of the No. 20 Chevrolet for the DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 8.

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