Trevor Carlin’s rookie Verizon IndyCar Series team defied all manner of odds and predictions by securing two top 20 qualifying positions on Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Having struggled for speed on the one-mile Phoenix oval, the Florida-based offshoot of Carlin Racing’s European junior open-wheel empire was penciled in as a leading contender to miss making the field. In his Chevy-powered No. 23 Carlin entry, Charlie Kimball made a strong statement by securing 15th on the grid, and Max Chilton, who earned 20th in the sister No. 59 Chevy (pictured above), affirmed the team’s rapid progression at the most specialized circuit on the IndyCar calendar.
“I’m so proud of the team because they’ve done such a brilliant job,” Carlin told RACER. “We’re thrilled after a fairly nervous Bump Day, and now we’ve got one car in the top half of the field and the other that’s close. I’m over the moon.”
Compared to where they qualified last year as members of the Indy 500-winning Chip Ganassi Racing organization, Carlin was especially pleased with Pole Day’s outcome.
“Our boys have had their heads down and improved step by step,” he said. “We weren’t fighting for the Fast 9, and we’ve got to be respectful for how much growth we have ahead of us, but I’m so proud of everyone.
“Charlie qualified higher up than he did last year (16th), and Max wasn’t that far off (15th), and that was while driving for one of the greatest teams ever. To have nearly matched that on our first Indy 500 qualifying is pretty special. But we’ve got our feet on the ground and aren’t expecting a lot more in our first appearance here.”
After seven years with the Ganassi organization, Kimball spoke to the swift progression made by the only brand-new team competing in the 102nd Indy 500.
“I’m so happy for everyone at Carlin Racing; the mechanics, the engineers, the truck drivers; everyone,” he said. “We’ve had amazing support from our partners. Chevy brought a bullet for us; their technical partners in GM Racing and Pratt & Miller Engineering have been extremely invaluable in helping to shorten that learning curve for us.
“We went into Indy with zero data and have doubled and quadrupled that with all we’ve learned which will be so important when we’re back here next year and each and every year after that. I’m extremely bullish about this operation. We took Trevor out to dinner last night to celebrate putting two cars in the Indy 500 on his first attempt. It’s a really big deal.”