PWC: Charity efforts and comebacks afoot for Mid-Ohio round

Leave a comment

While this weekend’s pair of Pirelli World Challenge races at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course will play a pivotal role in all of the series’ championships (all six divisions are in action this weekend), this is also a big weekend for charity and comebacks.

There’s two designated charity cars, which both feature two-driver lineups.

We wrote last week about the GTS class Ford Mustang Boss, driven in race one by Pirelli World Challenge President/CEO Scott Bove and 15-year-old USF2000 rising star Austin Cindric in the second, which will race for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.

Meanwhile the second charity car was announced Monday. The season-long Touring Car B-Spec FIAT 500 entry, run by 4R Motorsports and with support from FIAT USA/Pirelli Tire/SRT Motorsports, will see Leo Parente make his driving comeback with Dan Goodman also in the car. Parente, a former Formula Atlantic racer, has since carved a second successful career as a commentator. The two will run to benefit Maxton’s Fight Foundation. More info is here from the series website.

The Shea Racing Team, which fields two TCA class cars (Jason Cherry, Shea Holbrook) and two in TCB (Paul Holton, PJ Groenke) will have Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy boys and their families attending, as well.

Parente’s is one of three driving comebacks of note.

Alex Lloyd, the 2007 Indy Lights champion and 2010 IndyCar Series rookie-of-the-year who posted a best career result of fourth in that year’s Indianapolis 500 (and a qualifying effort a year later that still leaves my jaw dropped), will be entered in CRP Racing’s No. 12 Emkay Fleet Management/Hawk Performance Chevrolet Corvette. It’s his first pro race in three years, and first road course race since Sonoma 2010, when he drove for Dale Coyne Racing in IndyCar.

Lloyd will be joined in GT by Ryan Dalziel, the Extreme Speed Motorsports ace who’s making at least a one-off cameo appearance in EFFORT Racing’s No. 31 Porsche GT3 R, which won Round 9 in Toronto with Porsche factory driver Nick Tandy. Dalziel’s lone series appearance came in the 2013 season opener at St. Petersburg; he won the first race but was excluded post-race after the car was found out of compliance in technical inspection.

More details on the series’ races this weekend can be found on the series website, world-challenge.com.

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Ed Carpenter

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.