For the last two years, GRAND-AM sports car racing has served as the opening act for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s NASCAR “Super Weekend.” But that may not be the case in 2014.
Next year’s schedule for United SportsCar Racing – the new entity that will debut following the merger of GRAND-AM and the American Le Mans Series – has not yet been released, but it’s likely that Indy will stay on. However, according to a Friday story from Curt Cavin of The Indianapolis Star, IMS president Doug Boles has confirmed that multiple new dates are being discussed for the Brickyard Grand Prix.
The most interesting possibility is a doubleheader pairing in early May with the IZOD IndyCar Series that would start the run to the Indianapolis 500 on the track’s legendary oval. Before anybody jumps to conclusions, keep in mind that Cavin notes the potential event is something that Boles currently regards as simply “conceptual.”
Additional options for Indy’s sports car race also include a move to August or September according to Cavin.
Back in May, Hulman & Co. president Mark Miles said that his group would be willing to make improvements to Indy’s oft-maligned road course if the decision was made to race IndyCars on the circuit. Based on that and the talk of a potential sports car/IndyCar doubleheader, it’s safe to say that IMS really wants to ensure major use of its ‘other track’ in the years ahead.
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.