Castroneves fastest in IndyCar’s Iowa single-lap qualifying

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One part of the IZOD IndyCar Series’ abnormal – or convoluted, depending on who you ask – qualifying format for the Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by DEKALB is in the books.

The series ran one-lap qualifying to set the grid for tonight’s three heat races (live streamed online on IndyCar.com and the Verizon IndyCar 13 app at 6:45 p.m. ET). The top six qualifiers automatically advanced to heat race three, with even qualifiers 8-24 lining up for race one and odd qualifiers 7-23 lining up for heat race two.

From there, the top two finishers in each heat race advance to heat race number three, and the rest of the grid outside the top 10 in the final heat is assembled by results from the first two heats.

So now that that gets the formula for how the grid is set out of the way, here’s the who breakdown from single-lap qualifying.

Texas winner Helio Castroneves set a new single-lap record at Iowa Speedway of 185.687 and will have the pole for the final heat race.

The rest of the top six automatically advancing include: Marco Andretti, Will Power, Tony Kanaan, James Hinchcliffe and Oriol Servia. Servia returns to Panther Racing for the first time since Texas.

Ed Carpenter and Scott Dixon are on pole, then, for the two preliminary heat races. Dario Franchitti (20th) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (22nd) were among those with poor qualifying laps; Ana Beatriz did not set a time.

ONE-LAP QUALIFYING SPEEDS, AND HEAT RACE GRID SPOTS:
1.  3 Helio Castroneves, 185.687 (First, Heat 3)
2.  25 Marco Andretti, 184.766 (Second, Heat 3)
3.  12 Will Power, 184.240 (Third, Heat 3)
4.  11 Tony Kanaan, 183.713 (Fourth, Heat 3)
5.  27 James Hinchcliffe, 183.236 (Fifth, Heat 3)
6.  4 Oriol Servia, 183.021 (Sixth, Heat 3)
7.  20 Ed Carpenter, 182.805 (First, Heat 2)
8.  9 Scott Dixon, 182.506 (First, Heat 1)
9.  55 Tristan Vautier (R), 182.472 (Second, Heat 2)
10. 14 Takuma Sato, 182.384 (Second, Heat 1)
11. 83 Charlie Kimball, 182.270 (Third, Heat 2)
12. 67 Josef Newgarden, 182.142 (Third, Heat 1)
13. 16 James Jakes, 182.056 (Fourth, Heat 2)
14. 98 Alex Tagliani, 181.963 (Fourth, Heat 1)
15. 5 E.J. Viso, 181.458 (Fifth, Heat 2)
16. 7 Sebastien Bourdais, 180.892 (Fifth, Heat 1)
17. 77 Simon Pagenaud, 180.481 (Sixth, Heat 2)
18. 6 Sebastian Saavedra, 180.016 (Sixth, Heat 1)
19. 15 Graham Rahal, 179.295 (Seventh, Heat 2)
20. 10 Dario Franchitti, 178.578 (Seventh, Heat 1)
21. 19 Justin Wilson, 178.240 (Eighth, Heat 2)
22. 1 Ryan Hunter-Reay, 177.957 (Eighth, Heat 1)
23. 78 Simona de Silvestro, 174.689 (Ninth, Heat 2)
24. 18 Ana Beatriz, No speed (Ninth, Heat 1)

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.