NASCAR “telenovela” to debut in April

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Wheel-to-wheel action on the track and a love triangle between drivers off of it are the core elements of one of NASCAR’s latest attempts to woo the Latino market: A telenovela.

“Arranque de Pasion: La Historia de Ela,” which will debut online next month before hitting TV screens in May, takes place in a fictionalized version of NASCAR and stars Mexican actress Kate Del Castillo (pictured) as female racer Ela Rivella, who’s caught between two racing brothers.

North America’s most popular motorsports category has been involved as a co-producer in the project, keeping watch over authenticity and content matters.

“It’s our opportunity to meet [Latinos] where they’re at, within the genres they’re already invested in,” NASCAR vice president of entertainment marketing Zane Stoddard told the AP’s Greg Beacham. “I feel like our sport is uniquely accessible in terms of relationships, family and all the things that drive television shows.”

However, it appears that NASCAR is letting the show’s production company handle creation of any dramatic, over-the-top plot twists that come with any proper telenovela, with Stoddard instead mentioning his series’ role as more of a “sounding board.”

“Because the novela is such a specific kind of story, very dramatic, we didn’t want to pretend we understood the kind of storytelling that takes place in [them],” he said. “We know what we know, and we know what we don’t know. We rely primarily on them to begin with the story and then allow us…to layer authenticity over it.”

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.