WATCH LIVE: Ryan Hunter-Reay leads IndyCar into Long Beach battle at 4 p.m. ET

Leave a comment

The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is a very special place for Ryan Hunter-Reay, both in and out of the race car.

The former Verizon IndyCar Series champion won at Long Beach in 2010 to bolster his career, which was then in part-time status. But the famous circuit was also where he met his wife for the first time.

Additionally, Long Beach was also a favorite for his late mother, who died of colon cancer in the fall of 2009. Five months after her passing, Hunter-Reay dedicated his Long Beach win to her, saying that “she was definitely there with me.”

Now, he will look to add another Long Beach memory today by winning the 40th anniversary running of North America’s most prestigious street race.

You can watch the second round of the 2014 IndyCar championship LIVE at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra on your online and mobile device.

Hunter-Reay will be on the pole position after taking it from Andretti Autosport teammate James Hinchcliffe in the waning moments of a wild qualifying session that saw Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing fail to make the Firestone Fast Six final round for the first time ever.

Sebastien Bourdais and Josef Newgarden will roll off from Row 2, while rookie Jack Hawksworth and Simon Pagenaud make up Row 3.

CLICK HERE at 4 p.m. ET to see who will join the list of famous drivers to win on the streets of Long Beach.

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Ed Carpenter

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.