NASCAR VP: 2015 Sprint Cup engine package to be revealed before All-Star Race

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NASCAR’s senior vice president of racing operations has said that a formal announcement on engine changes for the 2015 Sprint Cup Series season will come before next month’s Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Today at a sponsor summit for Iowa Speedway (which had NASCAR become its new owner last fall), Steve O’Donnell said that the final overall racing package for 2015 would also see changes involving downforce, aerodynamics, and tires.

This comes weeks after NASCAR CEO Brian France said in a SiriusXM NASCAR Radio interview that significant changes, including a likely reduction in horsepower, would be made in the near-future.

In additional comments to The Des Moines Register, O’Donnell said that teams have already been notified of where NASCAR was going with the changes and that the process of finalizing the 2015 engine package was underway.

O’Donnell wouldn’t divulge exact details of the package, but did perhaps show a glimpse of how drivers would have to adapt to it.

“If you combine the aero package with that [reduction of] horsepower [and] allow some aero changes with the engines going into the corner, drivers have to get off the gas and they’re able to maneuver around a little bit more,” O’Donnell said according to the Register’s Chad Leistikow.

“Combine that with Goodyear and a little softer tire, now you’re able to move around a little bit more.”

And while the engine has been the most talked-about aspect of this new package, O’Donnell also emphasized the importance of the tires, calling them “a big part of this.”

As you’d figure by now, the final goal is to boost the product on the 1.5-mile ovals, which make up the majority of the Sprint Cup schedule.

NASCAR rolled out a new rules package on the Generation 6 cars for this season, and while O’Donnell believes it’s helped the show on the 1.5-milers, he also noted that there’s still work to do.

“Brian’s talked about more and more lead changes,” O’Donnell said. “That’s the end goal.”

While the Cup Series has only visited two 1.5-mile ovals so far this year (Las Vegas and Texas), the first eight races have seen an increase in several averages compared to last year, such as number of leaders per race, green flag passes, and, yes, lead changes.

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.