Perez and Gutierrez looking forward to Mexican support

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Sergio Perez and Esteban Gutierrez are both looking forward to next weekend’s United States Grand Prix as a large Mexican contingency travels to the Circuit of the Americas to cheer on their native drivers.

Although a Mexican Grand Prix is scheduled for 2014, the race at COTA is currently the closest thing that both drivers have to a ‘home’ race, making it a particularly special one for two drivers who have both had difficult seasons.

“It is very close to my home, so I’m really looking forward to being there,” Perez said. “It was a very special grand prix for me last year, so I expect this year’s race to definitely be special. Like last year, I think we will see a lot of Mexican fans at the race this year as well. I am amazed with the support I am getting from my country even though I am having such a bad year together with McLaren. For us it is very good because we have two Mexican drivers.”

Esteban Gutierrez echoed his countryman’s sentiments, saying: “I am very much looking forward to it. It will be a great experience to share all of this together with all the Mexicans and friends that will be there.

“It will be one of the most special feelings in my career. If we can achieve something there it will be great.”

Neither driver has a secure drive on next year’s grid with just two races remaining in 2013, meaning that a good performance in Austin could be crucial for the Mexican contingency in F1 next weekend.

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.