Ed Carpenter, front, leads Carlos Munoz, of Colombia, center, and Marco Andretti into the first turn in the opening laps of the Indianapolis 500 auto race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis Sunday, May 26, 2013. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)The Associated Press
Ed Carpenter leads the field through the first turn at the start of the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Sunday, May 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Tom Strattman)The Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS – The local boy led the field to the green flag at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and then Ed Carpenter proceeded to lead the most laps of the afternoon.
Everything was a success except for the finish.
Carpenter was stuck in 10th when Dario Franchitti hit the wall with two laps to go on Sunday, forcing the race to end under caution with Tony Kanaan in the lead. It made for a popular winner and a disappointed Carpenter, who felt he had one of the best cars in the race.
"It was a tough race — a great field of cars," said Carpenter, the Butler University alum and avid Indiana Pacers fan who just happens to be the stepson of IndyCar founder Tony George.
"We could have made a couple of different decisions that could have changed the outcome," he said, "but I'm to blame for that. We probably thought we were a little bit better than we were, and at the end, we just didn't have what it took."
Carpenter served as the feel-good story of the week as "the little team that could" — former Indy 500 winner Buddy Lazier, who also fielded a single-car team, called him an inspiration.
He proved to be unflappable, too, amid all the hoopla that comes with race day.
Carpenter led the field through the first corner on the opening lap of the race, extended his lead down the back stretch and came out of the fourth turn with the crowd still standing along the front stretch, rooting on the hometown boy in the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing."
Carpenter said he was conservative early, and that he didn't have the right amount of downforce compared to some of the other cars in the field, and that may have cost him in the end.
"It was so competitive. If you make one little mistake, then you get shuffled back," he said. "In this moment, 10th is not what we came here for, but in the big scheme of things, it's something to be happy about."