#98 Alex Tagliani
- Team: Bryan Herta Autosport
- Engine: Honda
- Sponsors: Barracuda Networks
- 2012: 17th Place, One Pole, One Top Five
2012 WRAP: Lotus’ issues made for a poor start for Tagliani and BHA, which opted not to race at Sao Paulo in order to regroup for Indianapolis. There, the team was able to switch to Honda and immediately became more competitive; Tagliani rattled off three consecutive Top 10s after the switch and also won the pole at Texas. His best finish came at Edmonton (fifth), but it could have well come at the season-finale at Fontana – a race that he had a chance to win until a mechanical issue sidelined him with less than 25 laps remaining.
2013 OUTLOOK: Tagliani returns with his No. 98 team intact (including engineer Todd Molloy), which is very important. But considering how deep the field is, the French-Canadian must capitalize on starting up front. Excluding his pole at Texas, Tagliani netted four Top 10 starts within the final 10 races of 2012 but was unable to better his starting position at the finish in all of them (although, to be fair, a transmission problem knocked him out late at Iowa). If he can convert good qualifying efforts on race days, we could potentially see him hit a few podiums this season.
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.