Max Chilton finally secures first Indy Lights podium with Carlin at Barber

1 Comment

It took a bit later than likely he or the Carlin team anticipated, but ex-Marussia F1 driver Max Chilton finally secured his first podium in the fifth race of the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park.

Chilton finished fifth behind teammate and then-points leader Ed Jones in Saturday’s Round 4. In Sunday’s Round 5, Chilton held off a hard-charging Felix Serralles in one of Belardi Auto Racing’s entries for third place.

The podium for Chilton is his first overall since winning the Singapore feature round in GP2 in 2012, then driving for Marussia Carlin GP2.

The driver of Trevor Carlin’s No. 14 Dallara IL-15 Mazda said it was a tougher task than anticipated given Serralles was on fresh Cooper Tires for race two.

“We were slightly on the back foot this weekend compared to previous races,” Chilton said post-race at Barber. “I was a bit unlucky in qualifying, I should have been second, but I had a gearshift problem. I had to make sure I brought it home both races.

“Yesterday we didn’t have the speed. Today the big change occurred and I felt we could really attack. Serralles was on new ‘boots’ behind me, and he caught us pretty rapidly. But to be fair to the series, the push to pass is really effective, so if you’re strict with yourself, it it’s easy to defend if you use it in the right place.

“I knew I had the speed on him if I could not keep looking in my mirrors. But occasionally he’d get behind me and I’d look and see Jack (Harvey) pulling away. It was a cat and mouse game. It’s a shame Serralles had new tires, otherwise Jack and I could have had a really good race.”

What followed next in the press conference was a bit of good-natured humor as Chilton adapted to the friendliness of a North American media center.

“I find in this series it changes hugely per lap. So you can think you’re clear in the first sector and then in the third you find someone up your ass,” he said to a bit of laughter.

Upon catching himself, Chilton added, “It’s really sort of challenging. I’m not gonna use that (word) in America. Sorry! This series does have exciting racing and hopefully we put on a show for everyone.”

Per Trackside Online, Chilton will return to Carlin for both the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and Indianapolis 500 weekends.

He is tentatively slated to miss the Toronto round of the season as it conflicts with the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the race where the new Nissan GT-R LM NISMO LMP1 car is due to make its race debut.

Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit


Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.

Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.

On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.

One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.

After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.

The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.

“It was good racing; it was fun,” Deegan said at about the 27-minute mark in the video above. “I just had some fun doing it.”

Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.

Lawrence defends Deegan
Jordon Smith failed to make the Detroit Supercross Main and fell to sixth in the points. – Feld Motor Sports

“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.

“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”

As Deegan and Smith battled, Jeremy Martin took the lead. Deegan finished second in the heat and backed up his performance with a solid third-place showing in the main, which was his second podium finish in a short six-race career. Deegan’s first podium was earned at Daytona, just two rounds ago.

But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.

Lawrence defends Deegan
A block pass by Haiden Deegan led to a series of events that eventually led to Jordon Smith failing to make the Main. – Feld Motor Sports

“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.

“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”

Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.

“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.

“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”

The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.