Paul Tracy calls out American racing’s “inconsistencies,” lack of horsepower

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Paul Tracy was always worth the price of admission to an American open-wheel race in his heyday. Sadly, the last few years of his career was mainly spent in part-time rides where he needed to outperform the machinery at his disposal, and he never reached the dizzying heights he achieved earlier on.

Still, Tracy was always a good sound bite at any point in his career. And in his first column for the U.K.’s MotorSport Magazine, Tracy’s famous no-holds-barred style shines through once more.

Two parts of American racing stuck out to “PT” in the column: officiating inconsistencies, and the relative lack of horsepower currently appearing for IndyCar.

The last lap of the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the GT Daytona class generated controversy for a call assessed to the Level 5 Motorsports Ferrari team for avoidable contact, later rescinded.

Of it, Tracy said the lack of a clear definition of what constitutes “blocking” led to the call.

“In the end, you just don’t know because there’s not a clear understanding, at least in my eyes, and I know in many other drivers’ minds where the line is drawn,” Tracy wrote.

He added some European drivers struggle to adapt because of that alleged lack of clarity.

“Sometimes guys race hard and there aren’t any penalties and you begin to think it’s fair game,” he explained. “Then somebody is given a penalty for doing the same thing everyone else has been doing. There’s no consistency. I complained through most of my career about inconsistent officiating. I barked up that tree a long time, wasting my energy and breath over many years and never got the resolution that I was searching for.”

Tracy also said the reason some drivers need to over-drive and constantly keep the power down is because there isn’t the same amount of power as there was in the 1990s into early 2000s.

“The CART cars from 15 years ago had 900hp and we were going down Lakeshore Boulevard in Toronto at more than 190mph,” he wrote. “But now the cars are so under-powered that the drivers don’t want to lift off the gas.”

It’s a tough balance for IndyCar and the American sports car championship that raced at Daytona. Officiating consistency is an easier measure to rectify than a power increase, as the power increase takes time to develop a lump that produces greater bhp.

Still, hard not to agree in part with what “The Thrill from West Hill” is saying. Because more power is always a good thing.

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.