Parker Kligerman’s Sprint Cup rookie struggles continue — fifth finish of 40th or worse in first seven races

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You’ve got to feel compassion for rookie Sprint Cup driver Parker Kligerman. No matter what he tries, what he winds up doing is an entirely different matter.

Kligerman, driver of the No. 30 Swan Energy Toyota, once again struggled in Monday’s rain-postponed Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Due to an overheating issue, he finished 40th, 27 laps off the lead lap.

That’s Kligerman’s fifth finish of 40th or worse in the season’s first seven races, and his fourth DNF as well. His best performance was 29th at Daytona, as well as 34th at Bristol.

Kligerman jumped to Sprint Cup this season after finishing ninth last season in his only full Nationwide Series season, and was fifth (2012) and 11th (2011) in the Camping World Trucks Series.

But Kligerman’s dreams of success in NASCAR’s premier series has turned into the thing of nightmares.

Maybe his luck will be better this Saturday at Darlington. In two prior starts there, he finished 15th in a Nationwide Series event there last season and 14th in a Trucks race in 2011.

While obviously disappointed at yet another bad finish, Kligerman has one thing to be optimistic about: once his bad luck turns around, he really only has one way to go – and that’s up.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

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.