NASCAR: Ryan Blaney takes Truck Series pole at Michigan

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By virtue of being the only driver to complete a lap in the final round of qualifying, Ryan Blaney won the pole for today’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Michigan International Speedway.

The final 12 drivers waited out almost all of the 10-minute final round before finally taking to the two-mile oval. But only Blaney and his No. 29 Brad Keselowski Racing Ford F-150 posted a time – 41.582 seconds at 173.152 miles per hour.

With that, Blaney’s solid weekend continues. On Thursday, the Truck Series championship leader was announced as the new driver of the No. 21 Wood Brothers Sprint Cup car in 2015, and yesterday at Michigan, he subbed in for Trevor Bayne in that same No. 21 car for Cup practice and qualifying (Bayne is also competing in the Nationwide Series’ event at Mid-Ohio this weekend; he’ll be back in the No. 21 for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400).

Blaney will be joined on the front row for today’s Careers for Veterans 200 by BKR teammate and future Cup rival Joey Logano. Outside of Blaney, Positions 2-11 on the grid were filled according to speeds from the previous second round of qualifying; Logano was the quickest in Round 2, allowing him to grab a front row spot.

Timothy Peters and Darrell Wallace Jr. will make up the second row, and Row 3 will have Johnny Sauter and Travis Kvapil. Kvapil is subbing in for John Wes Townley, who is missing his second consecutive Truck Series event after a hard crash in ARCA qualifying at Pocono on Aug. 1.

Two other Cup regulars, Kyle Busch and Pocono Truck winner Austin Dillon, are in the 29-truck field today. Busch will start 11th, and Dillon will start 13th.

Green flag for the Trucks is expected to fall around 12:30 p.m. ET.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Michigan – Starting Grid

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.