The IndyCar Grand Prix of Houston doubleheader this weekend will play out on the hot streets of this hot Southeast Texas city. One would expect that winning one or both races would indeed favor one of the series’ three big super teams that have all the resources needed for quick turnarounds.
The favorites to win this week would be a driver from Team Penske, Chip Ganassi Racing or maybe Andretti Motorsport. All have multiple cars, drivers and crews that can help each other out when you have two races in the span of 24 hours. However, if we have learned one thing this season in IndyCar, it is to expect the unexpected.
So, who might be a long shot worth our consideration?
I give you Ed Carpenter, a driver who also is a car owner and on his own against all of the super teams. He is the David to their Goliath, but Carpenter has been able to compete this season against the big boys and if nothing else, gain their respect. He has the distinction of being the IndyCar series’ only team owner/driver and the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevy is a force on the track.
This week before he was in Houston, I spoke to Carpenter about this week’s doubleheader and competing as a one-car team, and also about an off-track accident that could have ended his team’s season with three races to go in 2013.
Rant Sports: First of all you had a little excitement last week?
Carpenter: Well, we experienced a fire in the rear of our trailer early Wednesday about 20 miles west of Flagstaff, Ariz., after we and the ECR/Fuzzy’s Vodka team had tested at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. We have heard from just about everyone, from the manufacturers in Chevrolet, Firestone and Dallara to teams like KV, Andretti, Sarah Fisher, Penske and others. Many have reached out and are offering help and materials. It’s nice knowing that people are there for you. Our sponsors have been very supportive too.”
RS: Will you be ready for Houston?
Carpenter: Yes, we have been working around the clock and we will be there. I actually think that the fire and all the work we put into the car will help us this week. Our focus can be on racing for two days and for this entire team that is just what we need right now. Every cloud has a silver lining and for us, it is back to back races in Houston. Ovals have been good to us — we won last year in Fontana — but we have done very well on street courses as well and I think with all of our focus on Houston, that could be a good thing for us this weekend.
While I know that we are not supposed to cheer for anyone in this profession, I think that the IndyCar community as a whole likes Ed Carpenter. He is a good guy who has a talent and a passion for racing. Maybe this weekend in Houston, he can get his first win of the season — I would not bet against him.