Four IndyCar teams were projected to test on Monday at Sebring International Raceway, to kick off February’s testing schedule. The rest of the month will see teams largely head west to California.
Per the official IndyCar testing schedule, Dale Coyne Racing (Justin Wilson and a second driver TBD), Schmidt Peterson’s Simon Pagenaud and Mikhail Aleshin, Panther Racing’s Carlos Huertas and an unnamed driver for Bryan Herta Autosport (likely Luca Filippi, but not confirmed) are listed for a single-day test today. Thus far, only SPM has tweeted its presence on site, via team manager Rob Edwards.
Wilson’s test would be his first running in an IndyCar since his accident in the season finale at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana last year. But the Englishman was back in racing action a little more than a week ago at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Pagenaud and Huertas are also listed to test on Tuesday, and will be joined by two other teams. Ed Carpenter Racing’s Mike Conway will be back in action and Andretti Autosport’s quartet of Hondas – Ryan Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe, Marco Andretti and Carlos Munoz – is also listed.
The remainder of the schedule, as it stands now, is listed below by team:
- Chip Ganassi Racing (Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Ryan Briscoe, Charlie Kimball): Feb. 10, Auto Club Speedway; Feb. 12, Sonoma Raceway
- Team Penske (Juan Pablo Montoya, Helio Castroneves, Will Power): Feb. 10, Auto Club Speedway; Feb. 12, Sonoma Raceway; Feb. 20, Barber Motorsports Park
- KV Racing Technology (Sebastien Bourdais, second driver TBD): Feb. 10, Auto Club Speedway; Feb. 12, Sonoma Raceway
- Ed Carpenter Racing (Ed Carpenter, Mike Conway): Feb. 10, Auto Club Speedway (Carpenter); Feb. 12, Sonoma Raceway (Conway)
- Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (Simon Pagenaud, Mikhail Aleshin): Feb. 12, Sonoma Raceway
- A.J. Foyt Racing (Takuma Sato): Feb. 12, Sonoma Raceway
- Dale Coyne Racing (Justin Wilson, second driver TBD): Feb. 17, Sebring International Raceway
- Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (Josef Newgarden): Feb. 17, Sebring International Raceway
- Bryan Herta Autosport (driver TBD): Feb. 17, Sebring International Raceway
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.