MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. Max Chilton made a significant improvement in performance and final finishing position this year.
Max Chilton, No. 8 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
- 2016: 19th Place, Best Finish 7th, Best Start 4th, 0 Top-5, 2 Top-10, 2 Laps Led, 13.9 Avg. Start, 16.1 Avg. Finish
- 2017: 11th Place, Best Finish 4th, Best Start 6th, 1 Top-5, 6 Top-10, 64 Laps Led, 12.6 Avg. Start, 12.2 Avg. Finish
Max Chilton’s second season in IndyCar was a solid, serviceable leap in performance from year-to-year – under-the-radar but sufficient enough to prove his proper place on the grid after a mixed first season.
Chilton enjoyed an excellent month of May, with a great run from 14th to seventh in the Indianapolis Grand Prix, and an even better Indianapolis 500 when he led a race-high 50 laps before fading to fourth place by the checkered flag. Four other top-10 finishes between seventh and ninth provided a good improvement versus 2016.
Crucially, where Chilton also impressed this year was in showing his passion for racing in the series – something you might accuse him of lacking if you didn’t know him any better given his affluent background and appearance.
When Chilton was frustrated, it was because he’d felt he hadn’t got the chance to showcase what he could do. Getting taken out at Phoenix and getting parked at Pocono were two moments where he felt aggrieved at the circumstances as he’d been retired for reasons outside his own control. Finishing fourth at the ‘500 annoyed him, as well, because it fueled his motivation to want to win the series’ biggest race after getting that close. The two DNFs at Phoenix and Pocono cost him critical points, and considering he was only seven out of the top-10 at year’s end, they loomed large. His only real mistake of the year came at Gateway when he lost the rear end of the car in Turn 4.
Now married to his lovely bride Chloe, Chilton managed to make a more positive impression on the paddock in his sophomore season and was arguably Chip Ganassi Racing’s second most consistent driver in its foursome this year ahead of Tony Kanaan, although Kanaan had higher upside and ultimately better results. In an expected Carlin team situation, Chilton has the potential to flourish even more than he did this year.