Indy 500 drivers go across North America for media day duties

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It’s been a busy afternoon for Indianapolis 500 drivers that have gone all over North America to promote Sunday’s Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

We’ve already shown you Kurt Busch and Marco Andretti visiting NBC’s “Today” show and MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” But now, it’s time to take a look at what some of the other drivers are up to on Indy 500 Media Day…

Let’s start with the defending ‘500’ champion, Tony Kanaan, who joined the Looney Tunes at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor in Dallas-Fort Worth and competed in a waterslide race before talking to reporters…

Pole sitter Ed Carpenter saw how MillerCoors fills and packages their beers in Milwaukee…

Joining him in Milwaukee was “The Mayor of Hinchtown,” James Hinchcliffe, who carried out an important part of the job for any mayor…

2000 Indy winner Juan Pablo Montoya stayed close to Team Penske headquarters and visited our NBC friends in Charlotte…

A local elementary school was anxious for Charlie Kimball’s stop on his tour around Birmingham, Alabama…

Ryan Hunter-Reay went for a spin around Houston’s Loop 610…

Canada’s own Jacques Villeneuve and Grand Prix of Indianapolis champ Simon Pagenaud trekked to Toronto…

The ‘500’ rookies (sans Busch) were feted in a special rookie lunch put on by the American Dairy Association…

After that, they went to Louisville, Kentucky, where they made a stop at the Louisville Slugger factory. One of the rookies, James Davison, got his own Slugger…

Three-time ‘500’ champ Helio Castroneves helped out on SportsCenter…

Graham Rahal tried a few beignets in New Orleans…

Alex Tagliani needed a Tim Hortons fix in Dayton, Ohio…

Pippa Mann spent time at a breast cancer research laboratory in Cincinnati…

And Ryan Briscoe gave the Detroit media some hot laps around Belle Isle Park (site of the next IndyCar race after the ‘500’).

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.