Third men for Ganassi, Penske bit by bad luck (VIDEO)

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Brought in to replace the injured Dario Franchitti and provide support for title contender Scott Dixon in tonight’s IndyCar Series season finale at Auto Club Speedway, open-wheel veteran Alex Tagliani attempted to make the most of his best opportunity in some time.

Tagliani, who stepped out of his drive with Barracuda Racing in late July, started 21st for the MAV TV 500 but charged into the Top 5 by the midway point and then went on to lead a few laps shortly after in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

Unfortunately for the Canadian driver, his solid night went bad with 40 laps to go when he spun out coming off of Turn 2 and made contact with the wall – relegating him to a 14th-place finish after a promising run with one of IndyCar’s top teams.

Like Tagliani at TCGR, A.J. Allmendinger was called upon to help Team Penske’s own championship hopeful, Helio Castroneves, in a third car tonight in Fontana.

But he had found his own trouble just a little bit beforehand, when he lost control of his No. 2 IZOD Chevrolet going through Turn 3 and then smashed into the Turn 4 wall with 61 laps to go.

The incident capped off an up-and-down, part-time IndyCar run for Allmendinger this season before he returns to full-time Sprint Cup competition next year with JTG Daugherty Racing.

‘Dinger made six IndyCar starts for Team Penske and finished seventh in his first Indianapolis 500, but with his crash tonight taken into account, he also suffered four DNFs in that stretch.

Those DNFs include a gearbox failure at Long Beach and a pair of first-lap crashes in both races of the Detroit Belle Isle doubleheader weekend in June.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.