After a difficult start to the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway that affected multiple cars and drivers, the Carlin INDYCAR team was able to avoid the wreckage and salvage a top-10 finish and also advance a combined 18 positions between both drivers throughout the course of the race.
With no prior testing at Pocono Raceway and the second and final practice session of the weekend being cancelled due to inclement weather, Charlie Kimball, Max Chilton, and the entire Carlin team went into both qualifying and the race at the Tricky Triangle with only one hour of practice under their belts. When the green flag waved on Sunday afternoon, Kimball took the start in 19th and Chilton in 21st.
As the field came to the green flag, the No. 15 car made contact with the No. 21 car causing Pigot to make contact with the wall on the front straight before the start finish line. The race was immediately under caution until Lap 5 when the field went green again. Two laps later, a multi-car incident in Turn 2 caused the race to be stopped and put under a red flag. Five cars were collected in the incident and extensive damage to the Turn 2 fence caused the race to stay under the red flag for almost two hours while the fence was repaired and the debris was cleared. Pietro Fittipaldi, Takuma Sato, James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Robert Wickens were all forced to retire after the incident due to extensive damage to their cars. The involved drivers were transported to the Pocono Raceway Infield Medical Center for further evaluation and all but Wickens, who was airlifted and admitted to Lehigh Valley Hospital – Cedar Crest where he is still currently being treated, were released and cleared by the INDYCAR Medical Staff.
After the lengthy delay, a subdued field was led back out onto the track under the yellow flag and Kimball was called in under yellow to replace tires that were damaged during the earlier multi-car incident and to top off on fuel. After a few laps under yellow, the field went green again with Chilton taking the restart in 10th and Kimball in 12th. 35 laps into the 500-mile race, Kimball had moved his way into 11th and Chilton was running in 13th. Chilton was called in for his first scheduled stop on Lap 41 for fuel and tires and teammate Kimball was right behind him on Lap 42 for fuel, tires, and a front wing adjustment. On Lap 73, both Chilton and Kimball were back into pit lane for fuel, tires, and front wing adjustments and again on Lap 104. On Lap 136, Kimball was back in for a full service stop with his teammate coming in one lap later.
With 45 laps to go, Kimball was running 11th and Chilton 13th before both were called in with 31 laps to go for their final stops of the race. Thanks to the quick work of the No. 23 car crew in the pits, Kimball was able to advance two spots up to ninth after his final stop where he would ultimately take the checkered flag scoring Carlin’s fifth top-10 finish of the season and his 54th top-10 career finish. Chilton finished in 13th advancing eight positions throughout the race from his starting spot of 21st.
Coming off his fifth top-10 of the season, Kimball said, “First off, my thoughts and prayers are with Robert. I really hope he’s okay and recovers quickly, because he’s been a huge addition to the series this year. Overall, the No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet just fought all day. The guys did a great job on pitlane and they got me two spots on that last stop. I’m really proud of the effort the whole team has put in this weekend, especially with only running one-hour worth of practice and going straight into qualifying and 500 miles with tough weather conditions. They gave me a car that was really solid to start with and we were able to bring home another top-10 for the team. We had a really good test at Gateway a few weeks ago, so I’m excited to get back out there next weekend and hopefully bring home another good result.”
“That definitely felt like a 500-mile race, especially with that time delay,” said Chilton. “Obviously, my thoughts are with Robert after the earlier accident, which shook everyone up a bit. I think it was a good thing that we were able to put on a bit of a show for the fans though, although it probably wasn’t the most exciting race. Good job by the safety crews to get the fence repaired in time to allow us to race today. I felt like at times we were quick and then during some stints we struggled a bit when I had to let the leaders by, but I tried to make the most of what we had. It’s another 500-mile race under the team’s belt and essential experience at a track the team has never been to before. We’ve tested at Gateway before so we’re aiming to get the No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet nearer the front next weekend.”
The Carlin INDYCAR team will be back on track at Gateway Motorsports Park for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 on Saturday, August 25th for the 15th round of the Verizon IndyCar Series.