Sunoco named as presenting sponsor for IndyCar at Pocono

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Because their names sound so similar, it was only natural for Sunoco and Pocono to join forces for the IZOD IndyCar Series’ return to “the Tricky Triangle.”

Sunoco has signed on as presenting sponsor of the IndyCar race at Pocono on July 7, now termed the Pocono INDYCAR 400 Fueled by Sunoco. The 400-mile event at Pocono Raceway, the second leg of the Fuzzy’s Triple Crown, will be the first open-wheel event at the 2.5-mile, triangular-shaped track since 1989.

It’s also a natural tie-in given it’s a race where the Sunoco/ “Turbo” livery will be running on Tony Kanaan’s car for the race and it’s the second-to-last IndyCar race weekend before “Turbo” opens nationwide on July 17.

Kanaan is the only driver eligible for the Triple Crown after his win at the Indianapolis 500 in May.

“Sunoco has been a great partner of the Raceway for many years,” said Brandon Igdalsky, President and CEO of Pocono Raceway. “We are thrilled they came on board as the presenting sponsor for such a historic race as this one, marking the first open-wheel race at Pocono in 24 years. We cannot thank them enough for all their continued support.”

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.