Ed Carpenter has cited competition for engineers and other team personnel as part of the reason for his team scaling back to two full time IndyCar entries in 2024.
For the 2022 season, ECR effectively expanded from a two-car team to a two-and-a-half car team. Conor Daly and Rinus VeeKay were each given full season rides, along with Carpenter himself still running the oval rounds in a third car.
That arrangement persisted for the 2023 season, but will return to one full entry for VeeKay paired with a single entry shared between Carpenter and incoming rookie Christian Rasmussen.
Part of the reason for the arrangement is likely funding limitations on Rasmussen’s part, who is using scholarship money earned from his Indy NXT championship last year to help fund his entry into IndyCar.
But Carpenter outlined that there are other reasons he will be taking over the #20 for all oval rounds bar the Indianapolis 500, and a big one is the difficulty he’s had luring talented individuals away from other teams on the grid.
“Yeah, really a lot of it was just taking an assessment of where we were and how the year went, what went well and what didn’t, how do we take a step forward,” said Carpenter about his team scaling back.
“The series is so competitive now from top to bottom. For us, it was as much as anything about making sure we’re using the resources that we have with all of our personnel and cars and preparation and putting our best foot forward.
“We staffed up more last year for the third car than we had in the past, but that’s still probably less than what other two-car teams would average.
“As much as anything, we weren’t happy with how we performed last year overall. Doing the same exact thing again wasn’t going to be the ultimate fix.
“If we could have got enough additions into the team on all sides of things from engineering down through the mechanics, maybe we could have come to a different conclusion. The competition just isn’t on track, it’s off track as well. Very hard to get new people into the building and away from other teams.
“This is a solution that allows us to be more focused and hopefully come back stronger in 2024, which is the plan.”
The team’s plan leaves Rasmussen to run only the road and street courses, plus the Indy 500, for his rookie season.
Carpenter related that he would not be willing to let the young driver join another team for the oval rounds, but there is a small chance resources can be found to get him in his team’s car for more races in 2024.
“I would say it’s early enough that there’s always potential to add to the program that we have if the situation presents itself over time and we’re able to do that.
“Certainly the long-term goal is to have [Rasmussen] running a full-time schedule, so we’ll see how that develops. Right now, this is the plan.”