Tony Kanaan gets going with Ganassi at Sebring

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Two days ago, Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan had some fun seeing his face on the Borg-Warner Trophy for the first time. But today, he and his new teammates at Chip Ganassi Racing are putting in work.

Kanaan (pictured), reigning IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon, and American driver Charlie Kimball are testing at Sebring International Raceway this afternoon. For Kanaan, the session marks his first test with the team after leaving KV Racing Technology at the conclusion of the 2013 season.

“I’m excited, obviously,” Kanaan said this morning. “It’s a new challenge for me. I have a lot of things to learn today as far as the way [Chip Ganassi Racing] runs things here. I’m just enjoying it. It’s a really good day for me. I can’t complain.”

Along with Kanaan joining their own ranks, CGR is now part of the Chevrolet camp after running with Honda engines from 2006 to 2013. Dixon said the team was looking to compare between both power plants as part of their test work.

“Today is more comparison stuff – go over some of the late development things we had streaming through for the season, and obviously, the big compare between Chevy and Honda and see where we need to work and see what areas are good,” he said.

“There are a lot of new relationships, so it’s good to get an early test in before Christmas and start working on relationships that we hope prosper in the new year.”

Also keen on trying out the new Chevy engines and gaining a baseline for upcoming tests this winter was Kimball, who claimed his inaugural IndyCar win this past year at Mid-Ohio as part of a solid third season in the series.

“We have a lot of work for the day and it will give a direction of which way we need to head in the next few weeks before we really start preseason testing in January and February,” he said.

As for working with Kanaan, Kimball noted that the two have gotten along well early on.

“We’ve enjoyed getting to know each other,” Kimball said. “…When we get in the car, the relationship will develop more.”

Photo Credit: INDYCAR PR

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.