NASCAR marks 65th anniversary of first race that laid foundation for today’s Sprint Cup Series

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It’s time to raise a few glasses of champagne and toast NASCAR.

Thursday marks the 65th anniversary of NASCAR’s first sanctioned Strictly Stock race – the foundation upon which today’s Sprint Cup Series was built.

It was on June 19, 1949 that the new sanctioning body held its first organized race on a dirt or paved racetrack (NASCAR held some races in 1948 in Daytona Beach, but those were on a beach road course).

The first Strictly Stock race was held at Charlotte Speedway, a .75-mile dirt track located on the east side of the Queen City, and was the precursor to what is today Charlotte Motor Speedway in suburban Concord.

Driving a 1949 Lincoln, Jim Roper, of Halstead, Kansas, won the inaugural 197-lap race, defeating 32 other drivers who entered, according to Racing-Reference.Info. Roper led 47 laps and earned $2,000 for taking the checkered flag.

The race also featured future NASCAR Hall of Famers Lee Petty, Buck Baker, Tim Flock and Herb Thomas. Others in the field included Curtis Turner, Red Byron, and the first woman to ever race in NASCAR, Sara Christian, who finished 14th.

Interestingly enough, Roper would make only one other career start in NASCAR, nearly two months later at Occoneechee Speedway in Hillsboro, North Carolina, where he finished 15th.

For more information on NASCAR’s first race, check out the great story by StockCar-World.com (you may have to translate the page from French to English, which can be easily accomplished using Google Translator).

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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.