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Carpenter, Hildebrand make most of windy Indy 500 practice

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Heavy winds saw limited running during Day 3 of practice for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. However, the Ed Carpenter Racing duo of Ed Carpenter and JR Hildebrand still managed to stay busy, with each driver turning more than 50 laps in total on the day (Hildebrand did 54 while Carpenter did 52).

As Carpenter noted, even though the wind made conditions far from ideal, there was still valuable information to be had. “The wind was very, very gusty, (and) variable. And to me, if you can go out and get comfortable in conditions like that, I think it bodes well for the car, the race car and how comfortable you can be. And you never know, it could be this windy on race day. So I thought it was important to go out and run,” Carpenter explained.

Hildebrand echoed those sentiments, explaining that running in difficult conditions produces extra data regarding how sensitive the cars can be. “It helps to be able to increase your understanding of how variability like this affects the car. And that allows for you to make better decisions later on, because you know some of those things a little bit better rather than just having to kind of guess,” he asserted.

Both drivers have been quick all week, even turning the first (Carpenter) and third (Hildebrand) fastest no-tow laps during Tuesday practice.

JR Hildebrand crosses the yard of bricks during practice for the Indy 500. Photo: IndyCar

As Hildebrand detailed, even though the speed charts don’t always tell the whole story, they can be a good indication of who will be a threat come race day. “I think if you look at the stackup during practice over the last handful of years, the cars that are running in the top 10 frequently tend to actually be the cars, one way or the other, that are running in the top 10 during the race.”

Further, counting today’s results, the ECR teammates have turned the most laps out of the 33 entrants. As of writing, Hildebrand has completed 212 laps with Carpenter completing 182. For Hildebrand, the track also helps his engineer Justin Taylor, in his first season in the Verizon IndyCar Series after working on Audi’s dominant LMP1 sports car program, gain IndyCar experience.

“I think Justin comes into this, you know, with a very open mind, obviously, knowing that the team’s done a lot of really good work here to sort of develop the cars to where they are, where we start,” Hildebrand said of Taylor. “So there’s a little bit of comfort in knowing that these guys have been here, either with Ed and (his engineer Matt Barnes), they’ve run together here for a long time.”

Practice continues tomorrow at 12:00 p.m. ET.

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F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.