Chip Ganassi Racing rookie Max Chilton expected to get more out of qualifying at Long Beach, but will roll off the grid 19th in the field of 21 cars after handling and electronics issues intervened.
“We’ve been chasing the setup all weekend as a team but some are doing better with more experience,” Chilton told RACER. “I definitely had the best car I’ve had all weekend but on my last ‘push’ lap, I had three missed shifts on the exits of the main straights. I’m not saying I would have made it through [to the Fast 12], but we would have been right on the cusp. It’s frustrating.”
Chilton went through a slow progression during the season-opening race at St. Petersburg where he qualified 17th, was relatively competitive in the race, then settled for a 17th-place finish. His engineer Brandon Fry has helped other IndyCar drivers move from a low qualifying position at Long Beach to a quality finish, and it’s clear Chilton has his sights set on that plan on Sunday.
“I like this track and feel I can be quick around here but I’m not comfortable with the car,” he said. “I just can’t to get it work like it did at St. Pete where we made [chassis setup] progress forward. As a team we’re all struggling with understeer. We did a big change to try and balance it out and it didn’t give me what we needed. Brandon, my engineer, has had a car come from the back to the podium here, so that’s what we’ll be working for tomorrow.”
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