United SportsCar reveals 2014 calendar

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The merged Tudor United SportsCar Championship has, at long last, revealed its 2014 schedule. It features 12 weekends, although all four classes (P, PC, GTLM, GTD) will have an 11-race schedule thanks to a couple scheduling quirks and potential calendar clashes.

Events retained from the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series calendar include: Daytona (24 Hours), Detroit Belle Isle, Watkins Glen (6 Hours) and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Those carrying over from the American Le Mans Series calendar include: Sebring (12 Hours), Long Beach, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Mosport, and Virginia International Raceway. Four events have featured on both 2013 calendars: Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Road America, Circuit of the Americas in Austin, and Road Atlanta.

That blended schedule has left off only five tracks that featured on the ALMS or GRAND-AM calendars this year: Mid-Ohio, Lime Rock, Kansas, Barber, and Baltimore. None of those five being left off is of huge surprise, although Lime Rock has already hosted ALMS this year and will play host to GRAND-AM’s season finale next weekend.

Race distances, other than Daytona’s 24 hours, Sebring’s 12 and Watkins Glen’s 6, all traditional race lengths, were not revealed. It is anticipated that the standard 2-hour, 45-minute race lengths will be retained if not for all, most of the remaining races.

Nine of the 12 weekends will see all four classes, with three exceptions. Long Beach will be P and GTLM only due to a likely lack of available paddock space, Detroit will be P, PC and GTD to allow for GTLM entrants (Corvette, SRT Viper, perhaps others) to participate in the Le Mans test day in France, and Virginia will be separate PC and GTLM/GTD races. While not confirmed, it is likely VIR’s addition to the schedule came as a result of the cancellation of Baltimore’s street race announced earlier this week.

“This is, without a doubt, the best sports car schedule in the history of North America,” said IMSA President and COO Scott Atherton in the official series release. “When we announced the merger plans last year, we immediately envisioned a dream schedule, one that our industry and, most importantly, our fans would embrace. Although it wasn’t easy, we feel like we have arrived at just that. There were so many options to consider and we could have added more events, but we had to ensure that we didn’t over-tax our industry. So, we stuck to our plan of going with the ‘best of the best’ and capped the lineup at 12 events.”

Schedules for all support series in the IMSA family are forthcoming at a later date and will likely include a combination of events on USCC weekends and other facilities with other championships as headliners.  Additionally, the rounds that will be part of the North American Endurance Championship have not yet been confirmed.

Your schedule breakdown is below:

2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Schedule

Date                   Event
Jan 25-26            Daytona International Speedway (P, PC, GTLM, GTD)
Mar 15                Sebring International Raceway (P, PC, GTLM, GTD)
Apr 12                 Long Beach Street Circuit (P, GTLM)
May 4                  Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (P, PC, GTLM, GTD)
May 31                Detroit Belle Isle (P, PC, GTD)
Jun 29                  Watkins Glen International (P, PC, GTLM, GTD)
Jul 13                    Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (P, PC, GTLM, GTD)
Jul 25                    Indianapolis Motor Speedway (P, PC, GTLM, GTD)
Aug 10                 Road America (P, PC, GTLM, GTD)
Aug 24                 Virginia International Raceway (PC one race, GTLM, GTD separate)
Sep 20                 Circuit of The Americas (P, PC, GTLM, GTD)
Oct 4                    Road Atlanta (P, PC, GTLM, GTD)

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.