Indy pole sitter Carpenter hosts NHRA champion Brown

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Indianapolis 500 pole sitter Ed Carpenter and his team hosted reigning NHRA Top Fuel champion Antron Brown in his garage today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where Brown got to climb into the cockpit of  Carpenter’s No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet.

“It’s just good times to come hang out and support Ed for pulling that pole off,” said Brown, who became the first African-American driver to win a major motorsports title last season. “That was an incredible feat for him and his team, and it’s just cool to be out here with this experience.

After a brief word with the Ed Carpenter Racing squad, Brown hopped into the No. 20 and Carpenter showed him some of the ins and outs of IndyCar technology. The drag racer was very impressed by it all.

“Everything that these cars have evolved into, the way these new cars are – so much safer, so much more sound,” Brown enthused. “The paddle shifters, [having] everything in your steering wheel – that’s what we need in NHRA, everything in the steering wheel.

“They’re racing these small, turbocharged engines and they’re still going the speeds they go. It’s just phenomenal. It tells you how far it’s come in this day and age…That’s pretty special.”

As for the prospect of a potential ride swap in the future, Carpenter sounded open to the idea and said that while he and Brown’s machines may look to have a total contrast, there’s still commonalities between them.

“I’m sure we could both adapt [to the other] if we had enough time,” said Carpenter, IndyCar’s sole owner/driver. “Like anything, seat time is key. But when we were just standing in the garage and looking at the car with all the bodywork off, there’s a lot of technology and a lot of things that aren’t totally different even though [drag racing] is a totally different discipline.”

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Carlos Munoz

Carlos Munoz
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the driver-by-driver roster in this year’s Verizon IndyCar Series. Next up in 13th is Carlos Munoz, who fell back to earth a bit after winning Indianapolis 500, then series rookie-of-the-year honors in consecutive years.

Carlos Munoz, No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda

  • 2014: 8th Place, Best Finish 3rd, Best Start 3rd, 3 Podiums, 5 Top-5, 8 Top-10, 0 Laps Led, 10.5 Avg. Start, 12.6 Avg. Finish
  • 2015: 13th Place, 1 Win, Best Start 4th, 1 Podium, 3 Top-5, 7 Top-10, 25 Laps Led, 14.0 Avg. Start, 12.1 Avg. Finish

Munoz fell down to earth a little bit in his second full season in IndyCar, albeit not as badly as fellow 2014 rookie Jack Hawksworth, who’d switched teams and had a myriad of issues throughout the season. He won his first race in the rain at Detroit race one, which was well judged, but there were precious other highlights from the driver who has showcased “wow” potential in the past.

His qualifying fell off year-to-year and that was probably the single thing to pinpoint as to why the decline occurred, falling from eighth to 13th in points. What had been a 10.5 average in 2014 fell to 14th this year, and behind teammates Marco Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Ovals seemed his strongest type of circuit this year on the whole. Like teammate Justin Wilson, he’d been in position to score what would have been his third straight Indianapolis 500 top-five finish if a late splash of fuel wasn’t needed. Sixth at Texas from fourth on the grid marked his best overall weekend of the year, and fifth at Iowa and Pocono were also fairly good results.

But whereas Munoz picked his spots well last year and delivered a handful of podiums, his Detroit win marked his only podium visit this year. He didn’t really make much of an impression and was more anonymous than not over the course of the year. His future with Andretti is uncertain for 2016.

Williams maximizes wet setup work despite limited running in Sochi

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With action pretty much limited in both practice sessions due to the diesel spillage in free practice one and rain in free practice two for the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi, teams could only do limited wet-weather runs.

Williams Martini Racing tried to make the best of the circumstances, as one of only five teams that completed laps in FP2 (McLaren, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Ferrari) with eight cars.

Felipe Massa led second practice but it was an essentially meaningless session.

“It was quite a stunted session today which stopped us from completing all of the work we wanted to,” said Rob Smedley, Williams’ head of vehicle performance. “We had planned to run in the wet but we had a strange situation this afternoon in that half of the circuit was much wetter than the other half which made most of the tests null and void.

“We have been working on the wet set-up of the car and so wanted to get out at the end of FP2 to see the progress we have made. In a similar vein to our low speed corner work in Singapore, we seem to be making progress. We got through all of the bits and pieces we wanted to get through in terms of control systems and power unit set-up, and we have to go into tomorrow with a good plan for FP3 to get the car set-up for qualifying and the race.”

Valtteri Bottas finished third in Sochi a year ago, while Massa seeks a rebound after a fuel flow issue in qualifying resigned him to a Q1 elimination and an 11th place finish.