Verizon IndyCar Series competitors, Carlin, have once again had a chance of a strong result fall away from them in last Saturday’s 2018 Grand Prix of Indianapolis. The British team’s drivers, Max Chilton and Charlie Kimball, were both advancing on their qualifying positions during the race, but the pair would ultimately finish back down the order after late issues hampered their efforts.
Entering Carlin’s fifth race win of their first Verizon IndyCar Series campaign, the team were hoping that they would continue to make progress as they try to find more and more speed as the season goes on. Both drivers were once again unable to find the single lap speed they needed to advance into the second session of qualifying for the first time, with Chilton qualifying sixteenth and Kimball further back in twenty-third. However, both Max and Charlie remained optimistic ahead of the race.
“Considering we’ve never been here before, and other teams who were testing here last month on the road course finished behind us, I’d say we’re doing OK,” said Chilton after qualifying on Friday.
Kimball’s comment after the session was simple: “-we know what we need to do to get to where we need to be.”
As has been a trend over the last few races, both Carlin drivers were able to advance on their qualifying positions when the green flag dropped to begin the race. Of the pair, it was Chilton who made the biggest impression during the race, with the British driver pulling off some fantastic overtakes early on; passing both Scott Dixon and Ed Jones in two laps at one point.
However, once again, the potential for a strong finish was taken away from Chilton. He had been running as high as tenth before an ill-timed pit-sequence under a full-course caution would send him back down the running order. From there, he was unable to rekindle his pace from the start of the race, eventually coming home to finish exactly where he qualified: sixteenth place.
“Up until the final stages I was really enjoying our race – it was probably the most competitive I’ve ever been in a Verizon IndyCar Series race racing-wise.” said Chilton after the race, “I was making some quality moves and I think we got some quality time on air for the No.59 Gallagher Chevrolet.
“Unfortunately, today we just lost some time in the pits I think; in particular, we had an issue when everyone was pitting under yellow which cost us quite a few spots. It’s a real shame, as we had great pace and I think if we’d started further up the field we would have been there the whole day because our pace was definitely top five.”
Chilton’s team-mate, Kimball, was also performing better in the race than he had in qualifying. At one stage, he’d passed eleven cars after starting twenty-third and was running in twelfth. Had he stayed there, he may have had a chance to continue his run and try to earn the team their second top ten finish in IndyCar.
This, sadly, was not to be. After the final round of pit-stops, Kimball’s #23 Chevrolet developed a left-rear puncture. This forced him to return to the pits for a new set of Firestone tyres. He came back out on track way down the field, eventually finishing as the penultimate car on the lead lap in twentieth place.
“That’s a real shame,” Kimball said after climbing from the car, “We must’ve hit a piece of debris and we ended up cutting the left rear tire on that last stint, so we didn’t get the opportunity to race for the top 10. We worked our way and the guys were awesome in pit lane. We had really good stops all three stops and we had the strategy right.
“We really improved the car from yesterday to today. It’s disappointing not to get the result, but the performance doesn’t show how good the team and the No. 23 Fiasp Chevrolet was today. I’m ready to move and we’ll take any extra we can get for the next few weekends.”
With the race on the road course out of the way, Carlin’s focus now turns to the second race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway later this month. The biggest race of the season, the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500, will take place on May 27, with qualifying taking place this weekend on May 19 and 20.