Tony Kanaan, who jumped 16 spots to finish third last year at Iowa Speedway, led this morning’s IZOD IndyCar Series practice session on the 7/8-mile short oval with a lap at 184.063 miles per hour in the No. 11 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet.
This morning’s session will be the sole practice run for drivers and teams before they undergo single-car qualifying later this afternoon at 4 p.m. ET – which will serve to determine the groups for the three, 50-lap heat races that will set the grid for Sunday’s Iowa Corn Indy 250 (2:30 pm ET, check local listings).
Those heat races will begin tonight at 6:45 p.m. ET and will be streamed on IndyCar.com Race Control.
Coming off his first podium of the season last weekend at Milwaukee, Will Power posted the second-quickest practice time with a lap at 183.602 mph for Team Penske. His teammate Helio Castroneves, who was runner-up to winner Ryan Hunter-Reay last weekend, was fourth (182.962 mph) in the session behind third-place man Marco Andretti (183.100), who is seeking to make up the ground he lost in the championship seven days ago.
Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon was fifth-fastest at 182.841 mph, with E.J. Viso, James Hinchcliffe, James Jakes, Ed Carpenter and Simon Pagenaud completing the Top 10.
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.