AVONDALE, AZ – Unfortunately, CFH Racing is no more for 2016, as Wink Hartman and Sarah Fisher had to back out of their deal with Ed Carpenter just a couple months before the season opener of the Verizon IndyCar Series season. That left Carpenter as the sole owner of the team, so as a result, he had to revert back to Ed Carpenter Racing for the upcoming season.
Everyone wondered how the team would respond to the move though?
Two key members of the organization were gone as was a full time team as well, as the newly constructed ECR team had to revert back to one full-time car for the 2016 season.
What would this do to Josef Newgarden who shined in his first full-season with a teammate last year?
Newgarden won his first two IndyCar races of his young career en route to a breakout season. Would those lofty title contending chances hold true for 2016 with him being back to the lone full-time driver?
Well, if this weekend’s test at the Phoenix International Raceway is any indicator, not only is Newgarden going to be strong, so will the team car that will be driven by Ed Carpenter on the five ovals this year.
There’s no winners crowned this weekend at Phoenix, but if there were, in my opinion, ECR would be hoisting a trophy.
Both cars were found near the top of the speeds charts in all four sessions this weekend.
Newgarden, was third, fifth, second and 16th respectively in the four three-hour test sessions at the one-mile Arizona oval. Carpenter, was right there with him as he was ninth, third, third and ninth respectively in his No. 20 Chevrolet as well.
In fact, Carpenter became the first driver to eclipse the 190 mph barrier at Phoenix as he turned a lap of 190.321 mph in the opening session on Saturday afternoon.
Newgarden topped that shortly after though as he went 190.714 mph in his No. 21 Chevrolet in the final hour of the first session on Saturday.
“I’ve got a great relationship with Ed (Carpenter),” Newgarden said after today’s test. “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.”
Carpenter feels the same way.
“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.”
Now, I get that no points are given for this test, but after 12 hours of on track activity this weekend, ECR looks very strong.
Eric Smith is a Senior Writer for the Indy Sports Report. Follow @Ericsportsguru and @IndySportsRep on Twitter