Winner take all most likely as Chevrolet, Honda settle Indy manufacturer title

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Whichever of IndyCar’s two engine manufacturers – Chevrolet or Honda – wins Saturday night’s MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. will walk away with the 2013 Manufacturer’s Championship. In theory, at least.

If one of the cars ineligible to score manufacturer points wins the race, the next highest finisher from that manufacturer will take the crown. As of Wednesday’s INDYCAR fresh engine update, eight cars were ineligible to score manufacturer points.

Seven of the eight are Hondas: Cars 9 and 10 (Scott Dixon, Alex Tagliani), Cars 15 and 16 (Graham Rahal, James Jakes), Car 14 (Takuma Sato), Car 18 (Pippa Mann) and Car 67 (Josef Newgarden). Helio Castroneves (Car 3) is the only ineligible Chevrolet entrant.

The two manufacturers have traded blows all year and each has won nine races through 18 races. That leaves them square on 135 points – nine for every win (81 points), and six for every second or worse result (54).

Chevrolet scored seven of the first 10 race wins but starting at Pocono, Honda has surged, with six wins in the last eight races.

Chevrolet took the 2012 Manufacturer’s Championship upon its return to IndyCar for the first time since 2005 after leading from the outset. Honda briefly took the lead after Dixon’s win in Houston Race 1, but Chevrolet tied it again with Will Power’s win in Houston Race 2.

“The Finale at Fontana this weekend will decide numerous championships for the 2013 IZOD IndyCar racing season and our Chevrolet drivers, teams and technical partners are burning the midnight oil preparing for it,” said Chris Berube, Chevrolet Racing Program Manager, IZOD IndyCar Series. “We have a strong racing package at this venue and deep talent within Team Chevy. Flawless execution will be required to come out on top.”

Honda doesn’t offer quotes in its pre-race package but you can bet it’s heading into Fontana with a similar mindset.

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.