More money on the line for NASCAR’s All-Star Race

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The NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race on May 18 at Charlotte Motor Speedway will have some new incentives for drivers to do well throughout the event’s five segments.

The running order at the end of Segment 4 will be repositioned behind the caution car according to the average finish for the first four segments before pit road opens for a mandatory four-tire stop — and the order of the cars coming back on track after the stop will be the starting grid for the fifth and final segment.

Considering that the final segment is a 10-lap dash with a $1 million prize going to the winner, NASCAR believes that this tweak to the All-Star format will keep drivers up on the wheel at every turn.

“Having the average finish through the race’s first four segments determine how the cars come down pit road for the last mandatory four-tire pit stop takes the competition to an even higher level,” said NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton in a statement.

There’s also an added challenge for the drivers that could lead to an even bigger payday. If one driver can win all five segments, he’ll bag an additional $1 million bonus on top of the $1 million winner’s purse.

“It’s going to be extremely difficult to win all five,” reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski told NASCAR.com. “But in order to win an extra $1 million, you should have to do something special. And winning all five segments would be something very special.”

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Ed Carpenter

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.

Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

  • 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish

Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.

While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.

Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.

Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.

In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.