Ed Carpenter is stepping down as a full-time IndyCar Series driver and has hired Mike Conway to split driving duties with him next year in the Ed Carpenter Racing No. 20 team, according to a story in the Indianapolis Star.
Carpenter will race exclusively on the ovals while Conway will take on the road and street courses. From the outside, this is a good move for ECR as it should make the No. 20 a contender on a weekly basis.
Carpenter has been an oval ace since making his debut in 2003 but he's struggled on the twisties. Meanwhile, Conway himself stepped away from full-time competition in 2012 after two violent crashes on the oval at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2010 and 2012. He has sworn off oval racing but has continued to win races and earn podiums on the road and streets.
Carpenter has two career victories on ovals while Conway has won twice on road and streets, including last year in Detroit, making a rare start for Dale Coyne Racing. With the two sharing the No. 20 next year, Carpenter hopes to maximize his team's success have it be a weekly contender no matter the driver.
"When we started this team (in 2012) we never said it was just to further my driving career," Carpenter said in The Star. "It's a business decision (to hire Conway). I want this team to be successful long term."
The move does come to somewhat of a surprise only because Carpenter was making progress on the right turns aspect of IndyCar racing. While his oval program remained strong, picking up the Indianapolis 500 pole and four top-10s on ovals, he also scored three top-15s on road and street courses.
But when an ace like Conway makes himself available, the decision to hire him was likely an easy one.
Will Ed Carpenter Racing become a weekly contender with two drivers splitting seat time next year and can they capture an owners' championship? Sound off in the comments section below.