Carpenter Wins His 1st IZOD IndyCar Race By a Nose at the 2011 Kentucky 300
By D. Brian Smith
Photography: Ben Moment
Everyone enjoys a happy ending. Many of the drivers at the Kentucky IndyCar 300 wouldn’t characterize
their finish as being awesome, with one exception. Ed Carpenter won his first IndyCar race by a nose. In the closest finish ever for the Kentucky 300, Ed’s 113th IZOD IndyCar race was his first win. He narrowly beat Dario Franchitti by the closest of margins, his racecar’s nose, to beat Dario at a competition that Mr. Franchitti is extremely good at playing – open wheel racing.
Though Dario Franchitti is now in the lead for the 2011 IndyCar Series championship, with 573 points to his credit and two races to go, race day Sunday belonged to team owner Sarah Fisher and her veteran racer Ed Carpenter in the #67 Dollar General Sarah Fisher Racing entry. Ed finally got the monkey off his back, that monkey being no IZOD IndyCar wins. Ironically, Sarah Fisher is remembered for being the first woman driver to lead from the pole of the 2002 Kentucky 300 IndyCar contest.
Before the beginning of the Kentucky 300, Will Power had captured the pole position with the top speed of 219.28 mph. He led the first 48 laps of the contest and was also holding on to an 11-point lead over Franchitti in points for the 2011 IZOD IndyCar series championship. Regrettably, Ana Beatriz in the #24 Team Ipiranga Dreyer & Reinbold Racing entry, collided with Power in the pits and put a two-foot gash in the sidepod of his #12 Team Penske Verizon/Peak Performance car. With this unfortunate circumstance, Power had to pit two more times and get his sidepod repaired with black duct tape, proving even the pros have to use duct tape on occassion. Will Power wound up being the last racer on the lead lap, in 23rd position and eventually finished the competition in 19th.
To give you an idea just how close the finish was at the 2011 Kentucky 300, Ed Carpenter had one Honda push to pass feature left, which he used on the backstretch of the last lap of the 300-mile race. Dario Franchitti had used up all of his Honda push to pass features on his car already. Since Franchitti and Carpenter were battling neck and neck for 21 laps, it’s reasonable to assume that the one Honda push to pass feature left for Carpenter and a measure of good Karma are what made the difference for the #67 Dollar General Sarah Fisher Racing car and its now IZOD IndyCar Series winner, Ed Carpenter.
There are only two races to go before a champion is crowned for the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season. Who will it be? Franchitti? Power? Dixon? Servia? Or Kanaan? These five competitors are in the first five positions. Things are just starting to get interesting. We can’t wait to find out and bet you can’t either.