De Lorenzo delivers a searing smackdown of 2014 Detroit show

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There are the cookie-cutter reviews of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit that you can read… and then there is Peter De Lorenzo’s no-holds-barred, unfiltered take you can read over at Autoextremist (in, fittingly, the rants section).

De Lorenzo, an automotive lifer in advertising who founded the blog site in 1999, outlines this year’s Detroit show in the headline as: “a kaleidoscope of the pretty good, the really bad and the just plain ugly.”

Among the areas De Lorenzo critiques in great detail: GM’s elongated half-hour introduction before actually introducing the new Corvette Z06, the Chrysler 200 as a “massive yawn,” the Nissan Sport Sedan Concept as “sheer design lunacy,” and the Korean auto industry altogether, which he called “not ready for prime-time players.”

Motorsports made an appearance in a couple parts of this unvarnished review. De Lorenzo at least gave credit to GM for introducing the racing version of the Z06, the new C7.R, at the same time as the production car. But of the Infiniti/Red Bull Racing tie-in, De Lorenzo was not impressed. At all.

“How about Gimmicky, Misguided and Chock-Full of Clichés? The Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge is such a classic screw-up I don’t even know where to begin. This whole business about Infiniti trying to somehow establish a link between hanging its name on the side of the Red Bull Racing Formula 1 machines and translating it into production cars worth desiring is not going well. At all. There is absolutely nothing about this car that suggests that Infiniti’s considerable financial involvement in the Red Bull Racing F1 team and having World Champion Sebastian Vettel act as technical adviser has been worth the effort, or even capable of yielding even a shred of desirability in the future.”

There is one vehicle he considered a home run: the new aluminum-bodied Ford F150, which De Lorenzo called “a flat-out a game changer and a grand slam home run, pure and simple” that he believes will leave Ford considerably ahead of the pack in 18 months.

You’ll need to take some time to read all the critiques in detail, but this review is roughly the automotive equivalent of the searing smackdown the New York Times’ Pete Wells laid on Guy Fieri’s new restaurant a couple of years ago. In other words, long and memorable.

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.