Short-track tempers: Woman punches driver in Victory Lane at Bowman-Gray

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During this past weekend’s action at venerable North Carolina short track Bowman-Gray Stadium, a woman punched the winner of a Modified race in the stomach.

Burt Myers emerged victorious after making contact with Junior Miller on the final lap, which spun out the latter. Miller showed his displeasure by chasing Myers through the infield grass, around the track, and then back into the grass again where he bumped Myers before he was cut off presumably by track officials.

But that wasn’t the end of it, as a woman walked up during Myers’ victory celebration and gave him a shot to the gut before fans and officers pulled her away.

Fox affiliate WGHP-TV in High Point, North Carolina caught the entire sequence on camera. You can check out their clip below, which ends with Myers’ post-race explanation of the whole matter.

It makes for entertaining theater, but some aren’t happy about it. Noted auto racing writer Shawn Courchesne, formerly of the Hartford Courant and now with RaceDayCT, writes that the incident won’t help the reputation of Bowman-Gray or other short tracks in general.

“Yes, story-lines and drama create fans,” he closes his post. “But, where does it cross the line to not even being about the racing any longer?

“If people are coming to your track mainly because your drivers consistently use their cars as weapons to go after other drives or your drivers are regularly getting hauled off in handcuffs, then are you even selling “racing” at that point?”

It’s a fair argument to make. As Courchesne notes, Bowman-Gray is among the best-attended tracks of its kind. But when brouhahas such as these bring extra attention, they can run the risk of pushing the actual racing product to the side.

Check out the video above and see if you agree with him.

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.