After exploring various set-up changes over two days of testing at the Portland International Raceway, the Carlin INDYCAR team were able to leave the Grand Prix of Portland with their sixth top-10 finish of the season from Charlie Kimball on top of another invaluable learning experience for the team on a new track. Max Chilton, who had a strong qualifying effort and led his first laps of the season, was on track to record a top-seven finish until untimely yellows hampered the team’s strategy.
The 105-lap race on the road course went green with Chilton rolling off in 15th and teammate Kimball in 25th. The field immediately was put under caution after a multi-car incident in the second turn collected five cars. Chilton and Kimball both made it through the incident with no damage. Kimball was called in under yellow to top off on fuel and the race was back to green on Lap 6 with Chilton taking the restart in ninth and Kimball in 18th. Chilton had moved his way up the field into sixth with teammate Kimball in 15th as the first pit cycle began.
Chilton was called in on Lap 28 for his first scheduled stop of the race for fuel, red tires, and a slight front wing adjustment and Kimball was in on Lap 32 for fuel and red tires as well. The race saw the second yellow flag of the race on Lap 43 when the No. 12 car made contact with the tires and was stopped on-track. Kimball came in under yellow for scrubbed red tires and fuel and the field went back to green two laps later with Chilton taking the restart in seventh and Kimball in 18th. Chilton was back into pitlane on Lap 52 for fuel and sticker red tires and the field was back to yellow on Lap 56 after the No. 26 car spun in Turn 11. The yellow was only out for three laps and Kimball took the restart in 10th with Chilton not far behind in 14th. The race stayed green until Lap 76 when the No. 39 car went off-track and had to be towed back to pit lane. Kimball was called back into the pits for his final stop of the race before the field went green again, but Chilton stayed out under the yellow moving him into the lead.
Chilton, who took the lead with 30 laps to go in the race, led 10 laps of the race, which are the first laps he has led this season. He led the field on the final restart of the race on Lap 75 and held the lead until he was forced to make his final stop of the race for fuel and tires with only 20 laps to go. Kimball took the final restart in eighth and was able to move into seventh after teammate Chilton pitted for his final stop. Kimball would hold onto the seventh spot as he crossed the finish line and teammate Chilton recorded an 18th-place finish.
Coming off his sixth top-10 of the season, Kimball said, “This Carlin team just doesn’t have any give up in them – they don’t know the meaning of the words. I’m proud of these guys, they just stayed with it all day. They worked the fuel strategy, gave me the fuel numbers and lap times that I needed, and we were able to get it with the car. We made a pretty significant change to the No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet overnight and it really helped our pace throughout the race. I just can’t stress how proud I am of these guys. Yesterday was pretty frustrating and disheartening, but they didn’t let it slow them down today. We had great pit stops and a great strategy, so all I really had to do was drive it into the top 10.”
“All in all it was a really enjoyable day. We were racing hard and we were racing good guys. We had a great start at the green flag, great restarts, and we led that last restart well,” said Chilton. “We were able to keep Josef and Rossi behind us when they didn’t need to be fuel saving, so we had the pace. Strategy went our way at times, but when it really counted it just went completely against us. We were on for a top-seven finish all day and we weren’t up there just by luck. Unfortunately, with how the strategy worked out and how the yellows fell it just wasn’t in the cards for us, but that’s racing.”
The Carlin INDYCAR team will be back on track for the season finale at Sonoma Raceway for the INDYCAR Grand Prix of Sonoma on Sunday, September 16th for the 17th round of the Verizon IndyCar Series.