Although there hasn’t been an official comment issued by INDYCAR from its President of Competition and Operations Derrick Walker, comments made to reporters this week ahead of the Verizon IndyCar Series season opener in St. Petersburg have made one thing definitively clear: there won’t be double-file restarts in 2014.
Speaking to RACER.com’s Marshall Pruett, Walker said the lack of available front stretch real estate and particularly, the runs into Turn 1 would make the restarts unfeasible.
“Well, a lot of the tracks that we do those at are somewhat limited for space going into the first turn, and the potential for the whole track to be blocked was always there,” Walker said. “We consulted a lot of different people, drivers mainly, and came to the consensus that the decision we ought to come to is to change that format because of the space available at some of these tracks.”
One of the things Walker and the rest of INDYCAR Race Control will be monitoring closely this year is making sure restart leaders don’t jump early, via the Indianapolis Star’s Curt Cavin.
From an additional officiating standpoint, Brian Barnhart and Johnny Unser will join INDYCAR Race Director Beaux Barfield as race stewards for the season opener, both per the 2014 series rulebook and the AP’s Jenna Fryer, among other reports.
Officiating has occasionally been in the crosshairs over the last few years in IndyCar – sometimes coming off as too heavy-handed or not enough, depending on the circumstances – but ideally officiating can take a backseat to the on-track action for the majority of the 2014 season.
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.