Ed Carpenter wins at Auto Club Speedway

FONTANA, Calif. – Today, the Fuzzy’s 19th Hole Victory Circle. Tomorrow, the bricks.

A sweat- and champagne-soaked Ed Carpenter was relaying a 2013 goal for Ed Carpenter Racing after earning the team’s inaugural victory in the MAVTV 500 INDYCAR World Championships at Auto Club Speedway. Kissing the Yards of Bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a goal for every motorsports competitor.

“That might be our off season cry. It is every year,” said Carpenter, whose final-lap pass of Dario Franchitti in Turn 2 on the 2-mile oval occurred just before a yellow flag was displayed for a Turn 2 crash involving Takuma Sato.  “Every race we do and every win it's a little bit closer to accomplishing that Indy win, I think.”

Carpenter has a best finish of fifth (2008 with Vision Racing) in nine Indianapolis 500 starts. This past May with the first-year team he owns, Carpenter qualified 28th and finished 21st (he climbed to as high as third on Lap 180 of 200 before a spin derailed his opportunity for the win).

“We had the speed to do it at Indy this year.  We just didn't execute. That's what it comes down to.”

Carpenter is the first team owner/driver since Adrian Fernandez in 2004 (also at Auto Club Speedway) to win a race. Carpenter's previous best finish this season was eighth at the Milwaukee and Iowa short ovals, and qualifying ninth at Auto Club Speedway was a season high.

“I think to be where we are right now as a first year team is pretty remarkable,” said Carpenter, who was making his 128th career start. “(I’m) just really proud for the whole team. I think to win is something that's extremely hard to do this series anywhere. To do it as a new team I think is pretty special.”

He's looking to expand for the 2013 season.

"We've been trying to find a way to get to a second car team at times this is year, and for sure next year," Carpenter said. "Whether or not that will happen ... there are a lot of factors that go into being able to expand, but maybe getting this win will help us with that."

The stage was set for a race with Franchitti following a Lap 244 restart, and the duel evoked memories of last October's season finale at Kentucky Speedway when the same drivers hooked up in a 22-lap battle in which Carpenter prevailed by 0.0098 of a second.

“When I didn't get Dario on that (Lap 235) restart, I just kept attacking and kept my cool and kept running a smart race and kept my head in it,” Carpenter said. “I think just having the experience from last year helps with that.  It's always nice racing Dario in those situations because he's going to race you clean.”

Carpenter set the fastest race lap by leader (215.745 mph) and led a field-high 62 laps in a race that featured 29 lead changes.

"Almost isn't quite good enough," Franchitti said. "Ed just got a big run. Ultimately the smallest amounts, but you win by those and you lose by those."

Click it: Franchitti recognized for 2005 victory

Franchitti, who won the last IZOD IndyCar Series race at the speedway in 2005, tied Al Unser Jr. and Bobby Rahal for fifth all time with 88 podium finishes. He also passed Rick Mears with his 112th top-five finish and tied Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves for eighth with his 29th runner-up finish.