Carpenter’s oval mastery has now spanned 3 different styles of races

1 Comment

Ed Carpenter now has three career Verizon IndyCar Series wins, all on ovals, and all in completely different styles of oval racing.

With the previous generation higher downforce, lower horsepower Dallara IR03 chassis, Carpenter took a surprise but popular first career win at Kentucky Speedway in 2011, edging Dario Franchitti on the bumpy 1.5-mile oval in what was IndyCar’s most recent race at that track.

Needing to manage the race in terms of tires, handling and downforce levels, Carpenter excelled once again at Fontana 2012 – the season finale victory that year was the first for his own team and removed him as just a “one-trick pony” as you were.

Fittingly, on a track where he’s wanted to break out for nearly a decade, Carpenter finally delivered Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway. This was again another “driver’s race” at TMS and one where Carpenter continued to prove his oval savvy and veteran mindset in knowing how to master the package for this race, even though he said there were no secrets.

Carpenter owes some of his success to his USAC roots. It took more than 10 years, but some of the skills learned and honed in Midgets, Sprint Cars and Silver Crown, particularly the latter, carried over to balance over the course of Saturday night’s 248-lap race at TMS.

“The Silver Crown races were great for learning how to manage tires,” Carpenter explained post-race Saturday night. “You’re running one set of tires, one tank of fuel for 100 miles, I think I learned more about patience and managing a car and dealing with something that’s not perfect all the time in the Silver Crown races, and those have kind of all gone away as far as pavement racing goes.”

He also expanded on the nerve-wracking nature of the final stint, when some teams opted to take tires and Carpenter had to hang on for the final three laps on old ones.

“On one hand I was nervous, just because I wasn’t sure what the right decision was for us to make,” he said. “It’s hard to pit, but we were pretty far into our tires, and you know new tires are going to be strong.

“It was a handful the last couple laps, but you get in that position I’ve got to make sure I bring it home for the guys because they did such a great job all night with the changes on the car during the race, the pit stops, I felt like it was our race to win.”

And win it he did. The pair of Carpenter and Mike Conway are the first pair to win a race in the same season in the same car since Bruno Junqueira and Oriol Servia in the No. 2 Newman/Haas Racing Lola-Cosworth in the 2005 Champ Car World Series season.

F1 drivers split on new ‘shield’ protection

Getty Images
Leave a comment

SOCHI, Russia (AP) Formula One drivers are split over plans to test a new “shield” device to protect against flying debris.

The FIA will trial the transparent screen in the coming months for a potential introduction in 2018, as it pushes for greater head protection for drivers. Recent years have seen major head injuries in several motorsport series.

“I wouldn’t mind trying out the shield, seeing how is the visibility,” Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas said on Thursday. “In terms of safety it would be a good step compared to what we have now.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was another supporter, saying “we’ve still got to see a bit more, but first impressions seem OK.”

The FIA previously seemed to favor a metal frame known as the “halo,” which was designed to stop a flying wheel hitting a driver’s head but was criticized by some drivers on aesthetic grounds.

Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat said on Thursday he was “quite against” the shield and the halo. “The way Formula One should look should remain the same,” he added. “We have enough protection.”

Romain Grosjean of Haas voiced concern the “next step” would be completely closed cockpits.

Recent years have seen several high-profile head injuries, including the deaths of Formula Two driver Henry Surtees in 2009 when he was hit by a loose wheel and IndyCar driver Justin Wilson, who was struck by debris, in 2015.

In Formula One, Brazilian driver Felipe Massa missed the second half of the 2009 season when a loose spring from another car hit his helmet, leaving him needing surgery.

Haas changes F1 brake supplier ahead of Russian Grand Prix

Haas/LAT
Leave a comment

Haas has switched from Brembo to Carbon Industrie brakes ahead of this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix in a bid to remedy its long-running braking issues in Formula 1.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas took his eponymous operation onto the F1 grid in 2016, with Romain Grosjean scoring all 29 of its points through its debut season.

Grosjean and then-teammate Esteban Gutierrez had their efforts spurned on a number of occasions by brake issues which continued to arise through pre-season testing in 2017 and the early races.

Haas pushed to remedy the issue by testing new Carbon Industrie brakes in the post-Bahrain Grand Prix test, with Grosjean and new teammate Kevin Magnussen conducting running.

The team duly decided to fit the new Carbon Industrie brakes for this weekend’s race in Russia, with both VF-17 cars to run with them from Friday onwards.

“To be fair to Brembo, the last update in brakes we had that arrived in China were much better. It took a long time to get them,” Grosjean explained.

“So then I was not screaming to change to Carbone Industrie but it was in the pipeline, so we tried them, and both drivers were pretty pleased with them. We felt like we had more control under braking.

“I’m very sensitive to my left pedal, so I really need to get good brakes to get good confidence and push the car to its maximum limit. So we are going to run them here.

“There is still a little bit of work we need to be doing around the mapping and finding the solution around those brakes but I think yeah, definitely it’s going to help me a little bit to find the last few hundredths.”

NHRA: Chad Head to substitute for Alexis DeJoria in Charlotte

Photo: NHRA
Leave a comment

Alexis DeJoria will miss this weekend’s NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte, with her Kalitta Motorsports team confirming DeJoria will need to tend to a family matter.

Chad Head, Kalitta Motorsports Director of Safety, will step into the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry this weekend. No timetable was given for DeJoria’s return; after Charlotte this weekend, the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues for its third consecutive race weekend next week in Atlanta.

This isn’t the first race DeJoria has had to miss recently, as she also was diagnosed with a concussion and missed the 2016 NHRA season finale in Pomona.

F1 Paddock Pass: Russian Grand Prix (VIDEO)

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Following his victory in Bahrain two weeks ago, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel arrived in Russia on Thursday targeting a third win of the year to extend his lead at the top of the Formula 1 drivers’ championship.

Not since 2004 has a Ferrari driver made such a good start to a season, putting Vettel in contention for a fifth world title this year – although with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton hot on his tail, it will have to be a hard-earned success.

The fourth round of the year sees F1 head to the Olympic city of Sochi, which hosted the winter games back in 2014. The Sochi Autodrom played host to its first grand prix the same year, and is now a key part of Russia’s post-Olympic legacy.

Bringing you all of the latest news and interviews ahead of the Russian Grand Prix, Will Buxton brings you Paddock Pass.