Hello and welcome to my blog for The Baltimore Sun. For the next several days, I'll be writing about the Grand Prix of Baltimore, which begins next week and concludes Sept. 1 with the annual Izod IndyCar Series race through the streets of downtown Baltimore.
First, an introduction is in order. I'm Ed Carpenter, driver and owner of the No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka/Chevrolet. You may remember that our team won the pole position for the Indianapolis 500 in May, and for winning the 2012 IndyCar season finale in Fontana, Calif.
I'm a native of Indianapolis, a graduate of Butler University, and this is my 11th season in IndyCar racing and second as a team owner. We're not quite where we want to be yet in terms of success, but we're making great progress.
This weekend, the IndyCar Series will race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., so you'll have a chance to preview the Baltimore race by watching us on a road course. Street circuits and road courses are different and similar at the same time. They're different in terms of surface, elevation changes and runoff areas, but they're similar in terms of objective and genre.
Road courses are set in natural terrain, and Sonoma is extremely hilly. By comparison, the Baltimore street circuit is relatively flat. The turns on the Baltimore circuit are sharper than a road course, and we're surrounded by concrete walls on a street circuit. You can get away with a minor error on a road course, but you can't on a street circuit.
The two types of tracks are similar, though, in that we're negotiating turns, passing zones and traffic in much the same way on a street course as we do on a road course. So as you watch Sunday's GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on NBC Sports Network at 4 p.m. ET, you'll get an idea of what the Baltimore Grand Prix will entail.
I'm proud of what we've accomplished so far this season. Aside from the pole position at Indy, we finished fourth at both Iowa and Texas, and finished ninth at Pocono. We're fourth in the oval championship and 14th in the overall championship. Our car has been fast and effective on oval tracks, and we're steadily advancing with our road-course and street-circuit package.
I feel confident that I'm getting better along with the team. We haven't had the success in road and street racing that we want. Some it is my fault, and some of it is a young team still sorting things out. Our goal is to finish well at the last three road and street races – Sonoma, Baltimore and Houston – and then try for a repeat win at Fontana in the last race.
There's a pressure to perform at a high level at this time of the year. We don't have many races left, so there's a sense of urgency. We're fighting for a win and a strong finish to the season.
We're looking for big things both this weekend in Sonoma and the following weekend in Baltimore. We hope you're able to join us. If you've seen the race, you know how cool it is. If you haven't seen it, you really need to join us. You won't be disappointed.
I'll be back soon to tell you more. Stay tuned!