After the COVID-19 pandemic forced the running of the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 to be postponed from its original date on Sunday, May 24th, the historic race was rescheduled for Sunday, August 23rdwith the normal two-week build-up to the race consisting of practice and qualifying still intact. The traditional Indianapolis 500 schedule format consists of three days of 6.5-hour practices, two days of qualifying to determine positions 10-33 on the first day and the top nine on the second day, media events on the off-track days, an additional practice the Friday before the race, and then the race itself on Sunday. Unfortunately, due to local and national restrictions, the race had to be run without fans in attendance and very strict protocol in place for team personnel.
Both the team and driver Max Chilton struggled early in practice to find speed in the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet and eventually found an issue with the engine on the second day of practice that forced the team to change the engine during valuable track time. With only one day of practice before qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 after the team was forced to change the engine, Chilton struggled to find speed in his first qualifying attempt on the first day of qualifying. Per INDYCAR Indianapolis 500 qualifying rules, entries are permitted to make multiple attempts at qualifying as time allows and Chilton and the Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet were able to make a second attempt that was an average of 1.5 mph faster than his first attempt putting him in the 10th row in 30th for his final qualifying position.
After four days of media activities following qualifying, Chilton took the green flag for the 500-mile race on the outside of row 10 on Sunday, August 23rd. Chilton spent the next 200 laps patiently working his way through the field, staying out of on-track trouble, and getting in and out of the pit lane quickly with solid work from the Gallagher Racing crew. Chilton had worked his way up 13 spots from 30th to 17th and was all the way up to second with 25 laps to go before ultimately cycling back into 17th on the final pit cycle.
Chilton took the final checkered flag under yellow in 17th on the lead lap and was the fourth-highest climber of the race after making up 13 positions with only Santino Ferrucci (+15) , Helio Castroneves (+17) , and J.R. Hildebrand (+16) making up more spots.
“It was a long race, but it always is around here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I tried my best out there and the whole team did a great job today,” said Chilton. “We really worked on making the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet better throughout the race. Every pit stop we were changing something whether it was the front or rear wings and I was working with the weight jacker and the bars pretty much every lap. We had great pit stops all race and we tried to change up the strategy a little bit and at the end of the day we were a big climber. I think we were the fourth-highest climber of the day coming from 30th up to 17th, which isn’t bad at all and we brought the car home in one piece, which on a 500-mile race is extremely important when you want to be in it to win it at the end. We’ve struggled for speed all month, but today was a massive improvement and I’m excited to come back and try again for an even better result next year.”
The Carlin INDYCAR team will be back on track again this weekend (August 28-30) at World Wide Technology Raceway for the Bommarito Automotive Group doubleheader with Conor Daly back behind the wheel of the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet for the eighth and ninth rounds of the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season.