IndyCar: After Indy 500 crash, Ed Carpenter returns to action at Texas

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Judging from the witty banter that he and James Hinchcliffe fired at each other one day after the two got tangled in a crash at the Indianapolis 500, Ed Carpenter has moved on from that disappointment.

Still, the visible frustration from Carpenter in the crash’s immediate aftermath was worth noting considering that he’s easily one of the most even-keeled competitors in the Verizon IndyCar Series paddock.

“You saw how badly I wanted to win that race,” he said recently. “I have been dreaming of racing in and winning the Indy 500 since I was eight years old. I felt we were in position to contend for the win. And then ‘boom,’ it was over.”

“Even though we won the pole for a second straight year, people don’t realize how much we worked on the race setups. We put in a ton of miles to get a feel for the car in various conditions.

“We felt we put ourselves in position to challenge for the win. And it all went away quickly.”

That display of emotion also showed that his spirit as a racer has not ebbed, even as he’s chosen to stick to ovals and let Mike Conway drive his No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevy on road/street courses.

But this weekend’s Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra) marks an opportunity for Carpenter to bounce back from his ‘500’ wreck; last year, he finished fourth in Fort Worth.

“I have always liked racing at Texas Motor Speedway,” said Carpenter. “We have had fast cars the last two years there. We tested there earlier this year and we feel confident that the Fuzzy’s Chevy can race for the win.

“After Indy, I know the whole ECR team is very determined to pull this one off and shoot those pistols in the winner’s circle.  I’m anxious to get back there now.”

F1 2017 driver review: Max Verstappen

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Max Verstappen

Team: Red Bull Racing
Car No.: 33
Races: 20
Wins: 2
Podiums (excluding wins): 2
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 1
Points: 168
Laps Led: 133
Championship Position: 6th

Max Verstappen rise as a once-in-a-generation talent continued through the 2017 Formula 1 season, even if reliability issues meant we were made to wait for his best form to arrive.

Verstappen stole the show in a wet-dry Chinese Grand Prix by charging from 16th to seventh in the opening lap before ultimately finishing third for Red Bull, yet he would not grace the podium again until the Malaysian Grand Prix at the start of October.

A combination of power unit problems and on-track clashes saw Verstappen retire from seven of the 12 races in the intermittent period, with incidents in Spain and Austria being avoidable.

Perhaps most embarrassing of all was his stoppage due to a power unit failure in front of a grandstand swathed in orange at the Belgian Grand Prix, a race tens of thousands of Dutch fans had attended to cheer Verstappen on.

But when Verstappen got things right, it was – as he frequently quoted – simply, simply lovely. There was plenty left in the tank, as proven by his sheer domination of the races in Malaysia and Mexico as he took the second and third wins of his career.

Perhaps even more impressive was Verstappen’s victory over Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo in the qualifying head-to-head battle this year, an area the Australian has traditionally been strong in. Verstappen outqualifed his teammate 13-7 – it wasn’t even close…

All in all, Verstappen once again proved that on his day, he is one of the finest talents to grace F1 in recent years. With the right car underneath him next year, a title fight is certainly possible and will be the target – but there is always room for improvement.

And that is the scary part: Verstappen is only going to get better and better.

Season High: Dominating in Malaysia after an early pass on Lewis Hamilton.

Season Low: Crashing out on Lap 1 in Austria.