Following Carlin‘s first Indianapolis 500 qualifying session last weekend, the team’s drivers, Charlie Kimball and Max Chilton, have stated that they are proud of the effort made by the British squad so far this month. Both drivers qualified in the top twenty for the race this Sunday and will be hoping to finish their first attempt at the famous race in a strong position.
It is safe to say that the first few Verizon IndyCar Series races for Carlin have been tricky. Kimball currently has sixty points and sits in eighteenth in the standings, two points and two places ahead of Chilton in twentieth. Whilst the team have shown flashes of great pace in a majority of the five races run so far, only one top ten has gone their way; when Kimball finished tenth at the Grand Prix of Long Beach.
This weekend, Carlin will take part in what may well be their biggest race event yet, the 2018 Indianapolis 500. Both Kimball and Chilton had shown reasonable pace throughout the opening week of practice and were hoping to, firstly, get both cars safely into the field, and secondly, get as high up the grid order as possible.
On the first day of qualifying, “Bump Day”, the pair made it into the field with relative ease. Neither driver felt the need to make a second run later in the day, ending the session with Kimball in twenty-fifth and Chilton in twenty-eighth.
With the pressure of making it into the field out of the way, the second day of qualifying was all about seeing how far up the order Carlin could get. The team made a great improvement in pace on the second day, managing to get both cars into the top twenty, with both drivers picking up almost 1-mph on their average laps from the previous day.
Kimball would qualify his #23 Fiasp Chevrolet in a hugely impressive fifteenth place for the debutant team, with an average speed of 226.657-mph over his four-lap run. After qualifying, the American would praise all of the hard work done by the team in the run-up to the session.
“All week we’ve been trying to be as methodical as possible and just making sure we were prepared for the stress and the pressure of yesterday [Bump Day],” Kimball said, “Having gone through the qualifying process yesterday we doubled our experience for today.
“We were just trying to maximize and optimize what we had and not take any big risks – really just trying to be smart. The No. 23 Fiasp Chevrolet moved around more than I was expecting, but nothing particularly uncomfortable on that run.
“I’m just so proud of these Carlin guys and where they started before the winter to where they are now with two cars in the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile race – just a huge credit to them.”
Kimball’s team-mate, Max Chilton, will start the race on Sunday just two rows back from his team-mate. The British driver qualified his #59 car in twentieth place with an average speed of 226.212-mph. He would echo the sentiments of his team-mate and said that he was “proud” to just be in the race on only the team’s first attempt.
“The No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet has been decent all month with the pace not going off,” Chilton said, “We’ve just had a really consistent car. It hasn’t been the quickest, but it’s been really good over four laps. This is our first time here with Carlin and we’re just so proud to be in the race and get both cars into the top 20.
“Obviously where you start the race is important, but as I know from last year I was one lap down 30 laps into the race it and I ended up leading more laps than anyone.” continued Chilton, who finished last year’s race in fourth place whilst driving for Chip Ganassi Racing, “The Indianapolis 500 is all about being in the front with 10 to go.”
Both Kimball and Chilton have finished in the top five at the Indy 500 in the past. Whilst nobody would really be expecting Carlin to pull off such an impressive feat in only their first year, anything can happen. The team have shown pace, once again, so far in the event and will be hoping that the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500 will see both drivers finish, with perhaps a strong result as well.
One more practice session, the “Carb Day” final practice, will be run on Friday, with the 2018 Indianapolis 500 itself taking place on Sunday, May 27.