Ed Carpenter and Josef Newgarde

AVONDALE, Ariz. – The fact that both Ed Carpenter Racing cars are near the top of the speed chart in the Phoenix International Raceway promoter test for the Verizon IndyCar Series is impressive.

Taking into account how much the team struggled early in the 2015 season on ovals, it’s amazing. ECR drivers Josef Newgarden and Ed Carpenter ranked second and third in today’s first session of the test featuring 21 cars on the 1.022-mile oval.

While the track has been reconfigured slightly since the series last raced here in 2005, 16 drivers have eclipsed the official track record of 19.608 seconds (183.599 mph) set in 1996 by Arie Luyendyk.

Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud was fastest in the afternoon session, at 19.2884 seconds (190.747 mph) in the No. 22 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Chevrolet. That’s also nearly 6 seconds and more than 47 mph faster than the top lap run on the oval by a stock car.

DOWNLOAD: Session 1 Results - Phoenix Open Test

DOWNLOAD: Session 2 Results - Phoenix Open Test

DOWNLOAD: Session 3 Results - Phoenix Open Test

DOWNLOAD: Combined Session Results - Phoenix Open Test

Newgarden was second quick in the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevy (19.2917, 190.714), with Carpenter close behind in third (19.3316, 190.321) driving the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevy. The team co-owner/driver didn’t hide his pleasure with the improvement in the team’s oval performance.

“It’s encouraging, for sure, when you look at where we were on the ovals a year ago starting the season,” Carpenter said. “It’s really encouraging to see the effort that the team’s put in to really improve. And not just our team, but the team at Chevrolet with their updates on the aero kit, too.”

Newgarden and Carpenter joined forces in 2015 at CFH Racing. While Newgarden enjoyed a breakout season with two wins and seventh-place finish in the championship, Carpenter drove only on the ovals and had uncharacteristic results with just one top-10 start and two top-10 finishes in six events.

With an offseason to regroup and the team reverting to the Ed Carpenter Racing name, the chemistry is building.

“I’ve got a great relationship with Ed,” Newgarden said. “It was great to start working with him last year and it’s just gotten better over the offseason. We’ve really been able to work on a lot of different aspects of the team side, the car side, what we’re doing driving-wise.

“We have a great, really fluid relationship. He’s been open about his information, same with me. I think we work really well together. He’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever had.”

Pagenaud posted the best lap of the session on his 61st of 63 laps.

“We've been doing race stuff all day and the times have improved, so I feel very comfortable in every condition now,” he said. “We managed to get a snapshot of what qualifying would be like this time of the day.  The car was fast. So far so good.”

The PIR promoter test will conclude with a three-hour session this evening beginning at 8 p.m. ET. Live timing and scoring is available at racecontrol.indycar.com.