Sometimes a good team just misses the show at Indianapolis.
On Sunday, Carlin Racing was the unfortunate owner of that distinction after two of its three entries failed to qualify for the Indy 500. Adding to the misery, McLaren Racing, which formed a technical alliance with Carlin for the event, also failed to secure a spot in the field of 33. Only Carlin’s Charlie Kimball, who posted a run good enough to earn 20th overall, will represent the Florida-based squad next Sunday at the big race as teammates Max Chilton (photo above), Pato O’Ward, and, by arrangement, Fernando Alonso watch from afar.
Leading 50 laps in the 2017 edition of the race while driving for Chip Ganassi Racing, Chilton made full use of his ride with the Indy-winning veterans to show his capabilities around the 2.5-mile oval. On the Carlin team’s Indy 500 debut in 2018, he and Kimball made the race with ease.
But on Carlin’s return in 2019, something — whatever it is — went astray.
“The years where I was at Ganassi, I didn’t know anything as much as I do now,” Chilton told RACER. “That’s the best I’ve ever driven this car. We’ve got three cars now out, and it’s frustrating. Honestly, our guys are the first in and the last out, and you can’t go any faster with the car fully trimmed out. Unfortunately, we’re doing something wrong.”
Chilton, like a head coach after suffering a bad loss, showered his team with praise and backed their ability to rebound in 12 months’ time.
“It’s not against our guys; they’re doing an incredible job,” he added. “We’re just going to have to rethink our project and keep going. We’re not going to give up. Hopefully I’ll look back at this next year when we’re in the Fast 9, we can look back and say ‘Do you remember when that happened?’
“It’s going to be a very difficult week for our team and our sponsors. I feel unbelievably sorry for them. But I know in my heart of hearts, I couldn’t have given anymore this week to get speed out of the car. But it’s the fairest way. If we don’t have the speed, we don’t belong in the race.”