We have an official entry list for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the first of 13 Verizon IndyCar Series races you’ll be seeing on NBCSN this year.
A few things to note from the entry list, per sponsor designations and other updates:
- Helio Castroneves’ No. 3 Team Penske Chevrolet will be adorned with the familiar blue and white colors of AAA of Southern California. Castroneves has traditionally run this livery at Long Beach and Fontana the last several years. It shifts from the red, white and black of Hitachi run at St. Petersburg.
- Ryan Briscoe’s No. 8 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet has TNT Energy Drink as the primary sponsor, and is expected to be a predominately red livery in comparison to the red, white and blue for NTT Data. It should be a different shade of red, as compared to the Nos. 9 and 10 Target CGR entries.
- Sebastien Bourdais’ No. 11 KVSH Racing Chevrolet shifts from the black and green of Hydroxycut to the green and white of Mistic electronic cigarettes this race. A fellow eCig company, blu eCigs, made its debut in IndyCar at this race last year on Mike Conway’s No. 17 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda.
- Oriol Servia’s listed for his first start, with a sponsor currently to be determined on the No. 16 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda. Servia tested at the official preseason test in Barber in a black primer livery, with red wing endplates and Mi-Jack signage on the wings (Mi-Jack is team co-owner Mike Lanigan’s company).
- Colombian rookie Carlos Huertas is back for a second race in Dale Coyne’s second car, the No. 18 Honda. This isn’t a surprise and was expected, but is still good to see officially considering he was only confirmed just for St. Petersburg at the eleventh hour.
- Along the Colombian rookie lines, Carlos Munoz’s No. 34 Cinsay/AndrettiTV.com Honda is now listed as Andretti – HVM in the entry list, owing to HVM’s Keith Wiggins. The HVM/Andretti link began last year, when the No. 34 in 2013, then the No. 5 driven by E.J. Viso, took on the Leaders’ Circle points scored by the HVM entry in 2012.
- The standard Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing car name is listed for third year driver Josef Newgarden, as he’s expected to be in the yellow, black and white car livery he drove at the Barber preseason test rather than the orange, black and white St. Petersburg livery thanks to the Florida Lottery sponsorship.
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.