IndyCar prepares for long haul to Brazil

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The IZOD IndyCar Series’ annual trip to Brazil is always an adventure, and it all starts with the packing.

About 400,000 total pounds of cargo will be carried by two 747-400F planes to Sao Paulo, Brazil, where the series will stage the Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle next weekend. In addition, Firestone Firehawk tires, fuel and Dallara parts and equipment are being shipped over via ocean cargo vessel. When everything arrives in Sao Paulo, it’ll all be transported to the Anhembi Park complex that houses the 2.5-mile, 11-turn street circuit.

Each entrant is limited to 9,000 total pounds, and today at Indianapolis International Airport, the loading for the 5,000+ mile trip to South America began (the flight itself is slated for Sunday). After numerous trips overseas in recent years, the IndyCar teams are pros when it comes to having everything together.

“It’s a major undertaking to get everything packed,” Andretti Autosport team manager Ziggy Harcus told IndyCar.com. “And the paperwork side is another undertaking. Then you have the consumables — you have to make sure you take enough that you need but not waste it. We’re organized; we’ve done it quite a few times with Brazil and Japan.”

Amongst the cargo that’s shipped over via plane are the cars themselves, which are stacked up in twos on specially-made racks.

You can catch the Sao Paulo Indy 300 on Sunday, May 5 at 11 a.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network, or online and on your mobile device with NBC Sports Live Extra.

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.