Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth in 2012 Contenders Live (NASCAR photo)

NASCAR’s 12 Chasers to answer fan questions in Contenders Live Chicago event

1 Comment

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series enters the final three race weekends before the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup, starting this weekend at Bristol. As the field is narrowed down to the 12 drivers that will qualify over these three weeks, the drama intensifies.

Fortunately before the Chase starts, NASCAR fans will have a chance to interact with all 12 drivers – plus NASCAR President Mike Helton – in a lighter setting: the second annual NASCAR Contenders Live Sponsored by Toyota and Sprint event to be held September 12. It will be at Navy Pier in Chicago from 1:30 to 3 p.m. CT, just a few days before the 2013 Chase begins at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet. Further information is available at www.nascar.com/ContendersLive.

Matt Kenseth is among those who will be participating for a second year running. He’s not officially locked into the 2013 Chase, but with four wins thus far this season, he’ll make it in either via the top 10 or as one of the two Wild Cards in his first season driving the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.

“The Chase has been going on for nine years now, and now it starts at Chicago, but for me it’s always fun and always great to be in the Midwest,” Kenseth told MotorSportsTalk in a Tuesday interview. “For me, it’s the closest track to where I grew up (Cambridge, Wis.) It’s fun to have the chance to see the fans and interact with them for a little bit, and get going for the weekend.”

Miss Sprint Cup, Kim Coon, will be on hand for a second year in a row in the crowd, relaying fan questions to drivers and Helton.

“You have the drivers here that are so accessible, and you have the president that’s here, answering questions and bantering; it’s very unique,” she said in an interview. “NASCAR fans are so passionate about their sport. I’ll go to a NASCAR race and see people who have traveled from across the country or around the world. My last race was in Watkins Glen, and people had traveled from Australia, Germany and Japan to come to this race. It’s not something you see in any other sport with regularity.”

FURTHER DETAILS:

  • NASCAR Contenders Live sponsored by Toyota and Sprint will be making its return to Chicago at the historic Navy Pier on September 12.
  • This year’s event will feature the top 12 drivers on stage to discuss the most competitive time of the season, The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
  • The event provides drivers with a great opportunity to interact with our passionate fans and answer their questions. Miss Sprint Cup and Mike Helton will also be in attendance.
  • Fans can visit www.NASCAR.COM/ContendersLive to purchase tickets for $10 dollars and enter the Contenders Live sweepstakes for a chance to win an all-new 2014 Toyota Tundra CrewMax Limited and more great prizes.

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Ed Carpenter

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.