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

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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.