Late moves help Carpenter get best career finish at Iowa

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Ed Carpenter used the final green-flag run of the day to race into a Top-5 finish at Iowa Speedway, claiming fourth at the checkered flag in today’s Iowa Corn Indy 250 – his best-ever run on the IZOD IndyCar Series’ shortest oval.

He had led for 18 laps before going to pit road for his final stop on Lap 214, having gone 73 laps on that stint. A slow stop knocked the American driver back to tenth position, but he proceeded to peel off six spots in the final 36 circuits and got by Graham Rahal for fourth with two laps to go. As a sign of his late pace, he was throwing down laps during his final stint that were eight miles per hour quicker than the leaders.

Carpenter was a podium threat from the beginning, moving up to second position behind the dominant James Hinchcliffe in the early stages. But he couldn’t stay there as his No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet suffered from understeer issues. This caused him to fall into the mid-pack, but he would charge back up the pylon following a Lap 117 pit stop for front wing adjustments.

“We probably weren’t as aggressive enough early in the race on our changes,” he admitted afterwards. “But we made all of the right changes late and we were fast at the end. I think we had a car fast enough to win today. Our last green flag pit stop didn’t go as we wanted, but we came back and nearly got a podium today.

“Overall, we still got a Top-5 finish today, so it wasn’t a bad day for us.”

The fourth-place run is Carpenter’s second Top-5 finish of the season and betters his previous best at Iowa, a sixth-place result in 2007 with the old Vision Racing outfit.

IndyCar 2017 driver review: All posts, one place

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In case you missed any of MotorSportsTalk’s extensive 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series driver-by-driver reviews on NBCSports.com, we’ve combined them all into one post.

See the full rankings below. Of the 38 drivers that raced at least once this year, 23 of them ran anywhere from six races to the full 17-race schedule, and got a full review. Drivers who competed in four or fewer races were packaged into the “remaining part-timers” post.

1. Josef Newgarden
2. Simon Pagenaud
3. Scott Dixon
4. Helio Castroneves
5. Will Power
6. Graham Rahal
7. Alexander Rossi
8. Takuma Sato
9. Ryan Hunter-Reay
10. Tony Kanaan
11. Max Chilton
12. Marco Andretti
13. James Hinchcliffe
14. Ed Jones
15. JR Hildebrand
16. Carlos Munoz
17. Charlie Kimball
18. Conor Daly
19. Mikhail Aleshin
20. Spencer Pigot / 22. Ed Carpenter
21. Sebastien Bourdais / 25. Esteban Gutierrez
23-24, 26-38. All the rest