To say Ed Carpenter Racing had a bit of a fall from grace this year would be an understatement. From the outset, the team lost their ace, Josef Newgarden, to Team Penske, but they still hoped to be competitive with Ed Carpenter acting as their oval only driver/team owner, Spencer Pigot piloting Ed's car on circuits that turned right, and veteran JR Hildebrand sitting in as his full time teammate.
But they soon discovered that the success that had seen them win races with Newgarden and earn back to back Indy poles with Carpenter was no longer there. Simply put, in 2017 they floundered. Hard.
But, as the eyes of the Indycar paddock turn to 2018, it would appear that ECR is making the moves to put them back into fighting shape.
The most high profile move they made was that of signing English engineering mastermind, Allen McDonald, prying him away from James Hinchcliffe's Schmidt Peterson Motorsports #7 machine.
McDonald talks to Ryan Briscoe during the 2015 race at Fontana. Briscoe subbed in for an injured James Hinchcliffe. Photo Credit: Indycar
McDonald, a longtime Indycar veteran, got his first start in racing working for the now defunct Brabham Formula One team. He stayed with them up until 1989 when, after Brabham began selling assets, he transition to the Arrows team. He worked on and off with Arrows, engineering such drivers as Christian Fittipaldi, Derek Warwick, and Jos Verstappen.
But, in 1996, McDonald made the transition to American Open Wheel Racing, taking a position as engineer on the PacWest CART team. He helped secure victories for PacWest driver Mark Blundell and quickly gained a reputation as being one of the best engineers in the business.
As the CART/Indycar split continued to rage on, PacWest began to fold, and McDonald moved his services to Team KOOL Green, which would later become Andretti Autosports. From his position within the team, he helped the team win an Indycar title as well as countless victories on nearly every track on the calendar.
After separating from Andretti, McDonald then went on to work with Alex Tagliani in 2010, the year many of you may remember as the year Tagliani did the impossible, by putting his 1 car team's machine on pole for the Indianapolis 500.
McDonald then rejoined Andretti, and was subsiquently scooped up by SPM where he oversaw James Hinchliffe's ultimate feel-good moment of winning the 2016 Indy 500 pole after suffering near life threatening injuries the year before.
Now, this long biography is simply a long way of saying that ECR has made a great call in hiring McDonald. Success follows this man wherever he goes. He is well respected up and down the paddock and will no doubt put ECR back on track.