Grosjean’s sterling second half continues with runner-up in Austin (VIDEO)

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Romain Grosjean’s incredible second half of the season continued with his best result of the season in second place in the United States Grand Prix. It’s the Lotus’ driver’s second career runner-up finish, having also achieved the mark at the 2012 Canadian Grand Prix.

Grosjean’s last five results – third, third, third, fourth and now second – are the five best results in Formula One behind only Sebastian Vettel’s run of form. The podium is his sixth of the season in total and to celebrate after the podium, he wore a cowboy hat in the official FIA press conference.

As Grosjean admitted on the podium, coming in-between the Red Bulls today was the maximum possible.

“Yeah a good race; good start as I got past Mark and almost got Seb, but our car was working very well today,” he said to former Lotus F1 World Champion Mario Andretti. “The guys working in Enstone, to be between those two cars is our best. We have a podium here in the United States. It is great to come here and be back at a beautful track. Next year we need to be one step ahead.”

The Franco-Swiss has also, officially, been confirmed as the Enstone-based team’s number one driver for 2014. This has been assumed for some time, realistically since Kimi Raikkonen’s announced departure to Ferrari, but never made formal until the podium this afternoon. A race for the second seat is occurring between several drivers.

Raikkonen’s stand-in, Heikki Kovalainen, ended the race 15th after some mid-race contact that damaged his front wing. It extends an unfortunate streak as it was his 62nd consecutive Grand Prix without a point, a record in the sport.

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.