While the weekend had both highs and lows, the positives far outweighed the negatives as the Carlin INDYCAR team produced their season-best qualifying and race result at the Detroit Grand Prix doubleheader. Max Chilton and the No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet qualified 10th for the first race of the weekend on Saturday, which was the best qualifying effort the team had seen in their first season. While Charlie Kimball and the No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet followed up with the team’s best race result in the second race of the weekend on Sunday with an eighth-place finish.
After a morning qualifying session for the first race of the Detroit doubleheader that saw Chilton grab the highest qualifying position (10th) the Carlin INDYCAR team had ever seen and teammate Kimball starting in 22nd, the 70-lap race went green on the streets of Belle Isle. Chilton came in for his first stop of the race on the ninth lap for fuel and black tires. After 15 laps, Kimball was running in 11th with Chilton in 21st. Kimball was called in for his first stop of the race from 10th on Lap 24 for fuel, black tires, and a wing adjustment with Chilton coming back in after his teammate for his second stop of the race for fuel and black tires.
The first of only two yellow flags came out on Lap 47 for the No. 15 into the wall in Turn 13 and once pit lane was opened back up both Chilton and Kimball came in under yellow for fuel and tires on Lap 50. Two laps later, the field was back to green until the No. 19 car made contact with the wall bringing out the final yellow of the race. Three laps later, the field was back to green and the No. 23 was issued a stop-and-go penalty for avoidable contact with the No. 19 car. Kimball and Chilton would take the checkered flag in 19th and 20th respectively for the first race of the Detroit Grand Prix.
Despite the stop-and-go penalty, Kimball gave credit to the 23 car crew, “I’m really proud of the effort by the Carlin boys today. The No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet was good, we had great pit stops, and we made great fuel mileage. I got caught out on contact with a rookie. Honestly that one was on me, because I expected him to be a little more consistent than he was. With a rookie, I should’ve given him more benefit of the doubt. I feel badly for the team on that front, but the good thing about the Dual in Detroit is that we get to come back and try again tomorrow. We’ll try and qualify a little higher up, so we don’t have to fight quite as hard in the back to get back up front.”
Chilton shared his frustrations on the first race of the weekend after the team’s strong qualifying effort earlier in the day, “It’s unfortunate that we ended up where we did in today’s race, especially after we qualified so well this morning with a top-10 qualifying effort. We lost some positions on the start and then we went on an alternate fuel strategy that just didn’t work out the way we were hoping in the end for the No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet. While we aren’t where we need to be yet, we’re seeing more and more progress being made every race. We’re excited to get back out there tomorrow, and we’ll hope to have a similar qualifying effort but a different race result.”
After a disappointing finish to the first race day in Detroit, the team was back the next morning ready to qualify and race once again for the second race of the doubleheader. After heavy rain and inclement weather hit the area, qualifying resumed on-time on the wet streets of Belle Isle. Chilton and Kimball both struggled to get a fast lap in during qualifying due to yellows, traffic, and the wet course and ultimately, they qualified 17th and 21st respectively.
Prior to the green flag for race 2, the field was put under a hold while an incident with the pace car was cleaned up. The second 70-lap race of the weekend went green 30 minutes later but was immediately under the first and only yellow flag of the race for the No. 21 car spinning and stalling on the first lap. Along with most of the field, both Chilton and Kimball pitted under the first yellow for fuel and black tires and Kimball was brought back in on the next lap to top off on fuel before the field was back to green on Lap 3.
18 laps in, Chilton had moved his way up to 10th with Kimball right behind in 11th until both pitted for their second stop of the race for fuel and black tires. Just after the halfway point, Chilton and Kimball had worked their way up to eighth and ninth respectively and both came in on the same lap for fuel and black tires for their last scheduled stops. With 10 to go, Kimball had moved up the field into ninth and Chilton was sitting in 11th. After an incident that saw the leader of the race fall back to midfield, Kimball was able to move up another spot and ultimately cross the finish line in eighth with teammate Chilton not far behind in 11th. Kimball’s eighth-place finish in the race was the highest a Carlin car has finished this season in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
Kimball shared his excitement about his second top-10 finish of the season, “I’m really proud of the resiliency of this Carlin team. We didn’t get the job done all that well this morning in qualifying, but we had a nice clean race, good solid pit stops, and a really good strategy. It felt like I raced pretty cleanly and we had good pace in clean air which helped us get good mileage when we needed to. I’m just so happy for the 23 car guys for getting a top-eight finish today. With Max coming home in the top 11 today, hopefully we can get both of us into the top in Texas next weekend.”
“It was a solid day, but a long day. It was basically a green race apart from the start. We had more pace today than we had yesterday and the team had really great stops every time we came in. I think I did the best mileage that I’ve done in my entire career by them telling me the fuel number and me sticking to it,” said Chilton about his productive day on the race track. “Unfortunately, Charlie got me in the last stint and then I was in the marbles and was passed by a few others. We then had their pace and got one back, but it dropped us just out of the top 10. This has been a positive afternoon for the team as a whole though and we’ll concentrate, moving forwards, on getting both cars in the top 10.”
Trevor Carlin added, “It’s a real boost for the team to come away with a result that reflects the hard work that has been put in and the progress that has been made over the last few weeks. We need to now work on delivering this standard of result consistently. Texas of course will be another type of challenge as we return to running on an oval, but we are working hard to be on target from the first session.”
The Carlin INDYCAR team will be back on track at Texas Motor Speedway for the DXC Technology 600 on Saturday, June 9th for the ninth round of the Verizon IndyCar Series.