Grand Prix of Baltimore off for 2014, possibly 2015 (UPDATED)

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Citing a lack of a feasible date, Grand Prix of Baltimore official race organizers said they have canceled the race for 2014 and 2015, according to a report in the Baltimore Business Journal.

“Race On will not be able to participate in hosting the race going forward,” said J.P. Grant, a partner in Race On LLC. “Everyone involved in this matter has worked diligently and of good faith to make it happen. We explored every possible option.”

A report from the Baltimore FOX TV affiliate explained the date conflicts. In 2014, Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium will play host to the Ohio State-Navy game on Labor Day weekend, while in 2015, an American Legion Convention will arrive. Grand Prix manager Tim Mayer told FOX 45 shortly after this year’s race that they were “working the issues out right now.”

Baltimore has endured a rocky, but always memorable, three-year period on the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule. It premiered to a packed capacity in 2011 but had to undergo a change in promoters following financial issues at the tail end of the calendar year. Andretti Sports Marketing helped resuscitate the race for two years under the Race On LLC group, led by Grant.

ASM also promotes the IndyCar race in Milwaukee, held the last two years on the Saturday of Father’s Day weekend.

For IndyCar, it’s the first announced race lost for next season. Baltimore was also rumored to have a place on the merged United SportsCar schedule, but that obviously will not happen now. The American Le Mans Series – which will be fused into USCC next year with longtime rival GRAND-AM Rolex Series – has raced at Baltimore the last three years, as well.

UPDATE, 3:40 p.m. ET: A statement has emerged from Mark Miles, IndyCar’s unofficial head and CEO of the series’ parent company, Hulman & Co:

 “After a successful visit to Baltimore, which included record attendance, we are disappointed that our schedules will not align to host an event in 2014. This was simply a matter of trying to find the best date that worked for all parties, since Labor Day weekend was not an option in 2014.  We are thankful to the city of Baltimore, Race On and Andretti Sports Marketing for their support and enthusiasm for the event over the years. We continue to finalize our 2014 schedule and anticipate announcing it prior to the end of our 2013 season.”

The difference there is Miles has just ruled out 2014, not 2015 as the other report had indicated.

UPDATE, 5:15 p.m. ET: A tweet from Andretti Sports Marketing reads: “Unfortunate news, but thanks to the City of Baltimore, Race On and all of our sponsors – hopefully we will return to the Charm City one day!”

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.