Carpenter drivers find mixed results in Texas qualifying

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FORT WORTH, Texas – Ed Carpenter Racing experienced polar opposite outcomes in qualifying Friday evening for the DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Ed Carpenter, the only current owner/driver in the NTT IndyCar Series, was less than pleased following his two-lap run of around the 1.5-mile superspeedway. Climbing from the cockpit of his No. 20 ECR Chevrolet, Carpenter instantly knew his average speed of 217.982 mph wasn’t going to be enough for a top-10 starting position. Instead, he will roll off 13th in Saturday night’s 248-lap race.

“I'm just annoyed right now because my car is slow,” said Carpenter, the 2014 race winner at TMS.

Racing in his 17th season, Carpenter was baffled why he couldn’t squeeze more speed out of the car.

“I had a really good balance. I don't know why the car is not quick here. That should have been good enough for the front row, at least as it stood based on what guys' turn levels are and the way the car drove. I'm a little confused at the moment.”

Carpenter hasn’t managed another top-10 finish at Texas since the 2014 win and knows he’ll have to move up through the field to accomplish it on Saturday. With Thursday’s evening practice limited by rain, he’s among the many who aren’t sure how their cars will handle in race conditions.

“I'm going to have to be able to pass some people because we're going to be starting (around) 15th, he said.

“We didn't really get to run a whole lot (Thursday) night before the rain hit. So I think we all don't quite know what it's going to be, but I'm going to need it to be racy, that's for sure.”

Spencer Pigot, ECR’s second driver who is making only his second Texas start, quietly led the charge for the two-car outfit with a stout qualifying performance of 219.099 mph, good for sixth on the grid. As good as his two circuits were, there was some left in reserve in the No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet.

“It was all right,” Pigot said. “Unfortunately, I think we had kind of a discrepancy between our two laps. The second one felt a lot better. I had quite a lot of understeer the first lap, which caused just the speed not to be there. So I made some adjustments with the tools (in the car) for the second lap and that brought the car where I needed it to be. I would have liked to have two mid-(2)19s, but we'll settle with what we got.”

Firestone brought a new right-side tire compound to Texas this year designed to be more heat-resistant but also expected to be less durable over long runs. With the limited running in practice, coupled with what’s expected to be the hottest weather of the weekend, there remains uncertainty heading into the race.

“It's going to be a hard race,” added Pigot, who finished 11th in this event in 2018.

“It's still a question mark of how the tires are going to last. They've definitely not degraded as much as we thought coming into the weekend, so that's a positive. But I don't think we've really put 60-70 laps on (a set) to see how a full fuel stint is.

“We'll have to see how that goes, but so far I definitely feel fairly confident and fairly comfortable out here compared to last year.”

Coverage of the DXC Technology 600 starts at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

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