Possible end of the road for Panther DRR?

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The Panther DRR team may shut down after next month’s Indianapolis 500, according to a report from SPEED’s Robin Miller.

The singleton effort forged a technical partnership with Panther Racing just prior to last year’s Indianapolis 500, where it acquired Chevrolet engines after its four-race start to the 2012 season with the underpowered Lotus engines. Driver Oriol Servia made the most out of what he could with the Lotus equipment, and scored four top-five finishes with the Chevrolet, including fourth at last year’s 500.

Unless additional sponsorship can be found beyond Indy, Miller reports the team will close the rest of this year. Team co-owner Dennis Reinbold did say they already have backing for the 2014 Indianapolis 500. The team does not have one main sponsor but has had a rotating number of different primary sponsors and liveries.

Servia – whose whole career has been an exercise in tough luck as nearly every team he’s driven for has hit this crossroads – isn’t giving up hope yet.

“We’re not selling smoke here,” Servia told Miller. “This is a proper operation and we can win Indy so maybe somebody will see that and come along and save us. I’m not giving up and neither is Dennis.”

Reinbold co-owns the team with Robbie Buhl. It was founded in 2000, in the Indy Racing League years, and won its first race with Buhl driving at the Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando.

Servia finished sixth in Long Beach last weekend despite two penalties that were both later rescinded.

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.