Carlin reflects on opening four weekends in America

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Having had four weekends to get introduced to the U.S. racing scene, Carlin team principal Trevor Carlin is pleased with his team’s early season success in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires.

Ed Jones currently leads the points after the opening seven races, on the strength of wins in the first three races. Teammate Max Chilton ranks fourth in points and has added two additional podiums, one apiece at Barber and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

“The team have done a great job adapting to a new environment and they’ve done so in a very calm and professional way,” Carlin said in a team release.

“To be honest it seems like we’ve been there for years in the way the team operates.  We kind of made a conscious decision to do things the same as we do in Europe. Obviously there’s some small organizational differences which means we have to adapt to a few things, but the basic operation of the team is identical to any of our teams in Europe.”

As he did in a piece for MotorSportsTalk after the opening St. Petersburg weekend, Carlin noted the friendly atmosphere of the U.S. environment.

“It’s quite refreshing; it’s not dissimilar to a World Series by Renault paddock which is very open and welcoming,” he said. “Because the paddock is open to the public you get a real buzz between the fans and the teams. Obviously the big pull is IndyCar, but the grandstands are full, the autograph sessions are well attended and generally there’s a lot of interaction which is really nice.”

The big goal for Carlin is to increase the Lights program and expand into IndyCar in 2016. Carlin said he hopes for a three-car Indy Lights effort and a potential step up into the Verizon IndyCar Series.

“The aim for 2016? We’ve already had quite a bit of interest from new people for Indy Lights in 2016 which is really encouraging so we hope to be in a position to expand the team to three cars and if the climate and conditions are correct we’d like to move into IndyCar and we’re having discussions to that effect,” Carlin said.

Chilton, who banked his second podium weekend at IMS (pictured above), was pleased if disappointed at the same time with the result.

The spin that took Jones out of contention and Chilton getting caught up in it meant the pair fell to 12th and eighth, respectively, in the 12-car field. Yet both fought back valiantly, Chilton up to third with Jones fourth by the checkered flag.

“I can’t really remember the start, other than I do remember getting hit up the backside,” Chilton said to a bit of laughter in the IMS post-race press conference. The latter word served as a course correction after he mistakenly said “arse” during the press conference at Barber.

“(Jack) Harvey hit Ed and Ed spun. I was in a very poor spot but I was then really motivated and thought, ‘this isn’t over.’

“For 15 laps, we both ran qualifying pace and caught everyone up. (On Friday) we didn’t have push-to-pass but we set the car up even better. I still got the overtakes done and had fastest lap.”

Even with Jones behind him, Chilton noted there were no team orders, and the two maximized their result as best as possible.

For Carlin, it’s the first of several steps forward in their U.S. progression this season.