INDIANAPOLIS — 2023 was not a year Ed Carpenter is pleased with as a team owner. Among the four drivers, including himself, that raced for him last season the team only managed two top-ten finishes, both of which were by young Dutch driver Rinus Veekay.
“I would say some of the targets that we were aiming for last year weren’t necessarily on point,” Carpenter said. “So (we’re) just refocusing. I wouldn’t say we’ve totally reinvented anything, just improving the process.”
Veekay was the only driver to complete the full season for ECR with Carpenter competing only on ovals, as he usually does, and the abrupt separation between the team and Conor Daly after the Indy 500.
“It’s easy to try to start over when things don’t go well,” Carpenter continued on the team’s 2023 season. “But my experience over my 22 years is, one, it’s never one big thing, and, two, it’s just getting all the details correct, and we didn’t do a good enough job with that, especially early last year.”
ECR brought in Ryan Hunter-Reay to finish the season in Daly’s ride.
The deal was more of a deep-dive venture between the two so that RHR could give the team some feedback on what they could be doing right and what they might be doing wrong.
“It was helpful,” said Carpenter. “I think he did everything that we asked him to do. And I never viewed it as a silver bullet or a quick fix, but Ryan is definitely someone that I trust and our team holds in high regard, and he came in and did a good job and definitely brought his experience to give us his opinion on where things were.”
Reigning Indy NXT champion Christian Rasmussen of Denmark joins the team taking over the ride vacated by Daly and RHR from a season ago. He also won the USF 2000 championship and Indy Pro 2000 championship during his time in the IndyCar ladder.
Carpenter will once again contend only the ovals.
With some fresh talent and perspective, ECR is looking ahead with the now veteran leadership of Veekay who is entering his fifth season in the NTT IndyCar Series.
Veekay’s confidence in that role is palpable.
“I think I can really set that baseline and guide the team to where we need to go,” Veekay said. “I think for next season, it’s going to be important to get the details right. We just kind of missed that window too often (last year). I think if we can expand that window to be inside there more often or have a target, have the knowledge to be in that window, it’s just going to be important. I think we can do that.”
Still, hitting that window has proven to be a challenge for the upcoming year not just for ECR, but for many other teams as well with the delayed introduction of the new hybrid engine.
“It’s definitely been a different off-season. The cadence has been different,” said Carpenter. “Obviously with a big change coming and being delayed from what was anticipated, I think that’s always a challenge, and it’s easy to be frustrated. But at the same time, you have to focus on where we’re going and how we’re going to get there.”
ECR will look to snap its winless streak dating back to 2021 this year. Their last race win came in the GMR Grand Prix that season when Veekay took the checkered flag.
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