Carpenter confident in benefits of continuity with VeeKay, Daly

Despite uncertainty over his 2022 roster as a driver, Ed Carpenter does believe his team will benefit from having Rinus VeeKay and Conor Daly returning this season.

Carpenter confident in benefits of continuity with VeeKay, Daly
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VeeKay scored his first victory last year in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, but also had his season interrupted by a fall from a bicycle that broke his clavicle and forced him to miss a race. Daly’s future with the team was in doubt both before and after the U.S. Air Force pulled out of sponsorship of the #20 car, which Daly shared with oval-only team owner Carpenter.

But the arrival of BitNile Holdings bolstered Daly’s relationship with ECR, as he will now be full-time in the #20, as revealed last Friday. Carpenter said he’s still aiming to run the third car for himself at several oval rounds but for now he can only guarantee he’ll be in a cockpit again at the Indianapolis 500, an event in which he has finished runner-up and has also started from pole three times.

Nonetheless, Carpenter said he was “excited” to have some continuity in the driver line-up and expects it to help both his drivers.

“With Rinus, we’re looking forward to Year 3. He had a lot of success over his first two seasons, had a breakthrough win last year. Also had some inconsistency last year, which you can see at times in Year 2.

“I think he's entering the phase of his career where he's starting to mature as a driver and also a person, becoming more independent. At the end of the day he's still a kid, he's so young. So I think you're just going to see him come into his own skin and talent even more so this year.

“I know Conor and having worked with him, I think he'll benefit from being able to focus a little better on one team, one home, not bouncing around, looking for his next opportunity. Looking forward to that continuity.

“The two of them did work well together over the past two years. Having a good understanding of each other to be able to carry that forward I think will be a good thing for the team.”

Carpenter said that keeping hold of ECR’s assets in terms of human resources was “the nature of the beast”, and that he was well aware that VeeKay could be taken by a bigger team if he has a strong year.

“You just have to try to provide an environment and opportunity from within that makes them want to stay with Ed Carpenter Racing,” he said. “I know Rinus enjoys his environment right now. It's our job to make sure we're providing him with opportunity to meet his goals that he has personally and professionally, give him a place where he can accomplish those.

“We both want the same thing. If we have a successful year, I think we'll be positioned well to carry on. If he feels like he needs something else, he'll be able to pursue that when he can. But the goal is for him to be with Ed Carpenter Racing for a long time.”

Carpenter went on to describe the Dutch 21-year-old as “one of those rare guys that comes along that is an exceptionally talented, naturally gifted driving a car, maximizing the car. He never gives up. He's pretty strong at all types of circuits that we go to… He definitely has all the tools to develop into a champion. That's the goal with him, is to get a championship.”

He also said he has high hopes for Daly, stating: “We've been working with him long enough that we know what his strengths are and areas for improvement on his end as well. For sure Conor is fast, he's been able to produce good qualifying results and have some good runs.

“I think the goal for him this season is to maintain that pace that he's shown throughout the rest of a weekend. That's not pointing the finger at him and saying he needs to do that, it's a group effort. That will be the collective focus, to finish off weekends a little better than we were able to last year.”

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