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.

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, points

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

POINTS: Standings after Rolex 24 at Daytona l Michelin Endurance Cup standings l Daytona endurance points

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.