Can Carpenter be a threat once again at Indy?

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Ed Carpenter’s ability to deliver the goods on the ovals has to put him in the conversation of potential winners for this month’s 97th Indianapolis 500. As practice starts today at the Brickyard, the IZOD IndyCar Series’ lone owner/driver is aiming to be a contender at IMS like he was in last year’s race.

Carpenter started 28th after crashing his primary No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet on Pole Day and having to put a backup into the show on Bump Day. As the race wore on, he made his way up the pylon and was running third with 20 laps to go. But on Lap 181, a broken front wing adjuster on his car caused Carpenter to spin out of the battle for the lead.

“We broke a front wing adjuster in the middle of the race and I was trying to spin out on almost every lap,” Carpenter remembered going into this weekend. “But we had a fast car and I was driving it right on the edge at the end.

“It was a frustrating month of May until Race Day. Then, everything came together. Our pit stops were very good and the team made the proper adjustments during the race. It was just that wing adjuster that hurt us in the end.”

However, Carpenter and his team would eventually get that 500-mile race win in the 2012 season finale at Auto Club Speedway outside Los Angeles, as he passed Dario Franchitti on the final lap just before a wreck by Takuma Sato brought out the caution to freeze the field.

That victory gives Carpenter the confidence that he and his group can fight the bigger teams this month at Indy.

“…Winning the Indy 500 is the primary goal every year,” he said. “I know the team has worked extremely hard during the off-season to prepare for this year’s ‘500’. Our team has now won a 500-mile race and I think we are as ready as we can be to be a strong contender for another 500 [mile] victory.”

Montoya: ‘Hopefully I get a chance to do Indy again’ (VIDEO)

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Juan Pablo Montoya is on site at this weekend’s United States Grand Prix, his latest trip in a summer and fall filled with a lot of international travel and a number of different race cars he’s been in.

Montoya is committed to a full season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with Acura Team Penske in 2018, as he’ll share one of the team’s Acura ARX-05s with Dane Cameron.

However, the question of whether he’ll be able to race in the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil remains.

Team Penske has said it plans to only run four cars next month of May, with Helio Castroneves as the fourth driver alongside the three full-time cars driven by Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power.

While Montoya has said elsewhere that he’s shopping offers and has talked with other teams, it’d be highly surprising to see the two-time Indianapolis 500 champion who developed the Chevrolet engine for IndyCar’s 2018 Dallara universal body kit in a Honda-powered IndyCar, although he is running Honda’s brand (Acura) in sports cars.

Montoya elaborated on his Indy 500 prospects in an interview with NBCSN pit reporter and insider Will Buxton at the Circuit of The Americas.

“Not full-time no,” Montoya told NBCSN of his IndyCar 2018 prospects. “Hopefully I get a chance to go to Indy, hopefully with Penske, (and) if not someone else. We’ll see.”

Photo: IndyCar

Montoya has extolled the early testing both on the 2018 IndyCar and on the Acura ARX-05.

The first Acura chassis has run at Road Atlanta and Sebring International Raceway thus far, and will be put through its paces at other venues over the next few months.

“It’s been good. We did a lot of work with INDYCAR on that car. Fans are gonna like it,” Montoya said of the 2018 kit.

“Going to IMSA with the Acura program, we’ve done a lot of testing. It’s a beauty to drive. It drives better than what it looks! I haven’t had that much fun driving a race car in a long time.”

Acura ARX-05 Daytona Prototype international (DPi) race car to be campaigned by Team Penske in 2018