Post-Road America test, Chilton looks for improved second half

Getty Images
0 Comments

Max Chilton heads into this weekend’s KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America (Sunday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) looking to put a somewhat frustrating first half of the season behind him and start posting some results of note in the No. 8 Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet car.

Arguably his best race to date came in his first start at Phoenix, when he finished seventh. Otherwise, forgettable results of 14th on back have occurred in the remaining seven races.

As he and the IndyCar circuit head to a number of tracks where Chilton had success in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires series last year – when he was one of the top drivers in the second half with Carlin – the results could start coming.

He missed Toronto owing to his Le Mans conflict but he won at Iowa and came second in both Mid-Ohio races. Road America and Watkins Glen, two more flowy, sinewy road courses, should also suit his style.

“It was a great test,” Chilton told NBC Sports after testing at Road America last week. “An 8-6 session with 10 hours of testing is way more than what you’re used to. We started – we started at 10 it was dry at that point. Ran all the way to 6, then I rushed out to the airport.

“It’s more a European track. Very much a small Spa even though it’s only 0.2 of a mile shorter. The fans will enjoy it so, so much. There will be plenty of overtaking opportunities.”

Chilton, who scored six podiums last year in Indy Lights en route to finishing fifth in points, has noted luck more than lack of performance has been the culprit this year that leaves him currently 19th in points this year.

“I genuinely feel we have had bad luck. Detroit, the steering column failed. Indy in qualifying was my fault, and that put us on the back foot and we did a decent job from there (finished 15th). Alexander made that look pretty average, though! The accident wasn’t the plan. We did good to get back from them.

“Detroit… what can you say. I had a shunt that wasn’t my fault, that happens. The guys rebuilt the car and then Sunday I ended up crashing avoiding an accident in front of me, with Hinch, which was difficult to take.

“Having two DNFs like that on a weekend, that’s the only time it’s ever happened in my career. And with two in two days I left there a bit of a grump. It’s racing – it goes from highs to lows very quickly.

“For many reasons here should be a good weekend. All the teams don’t have a current setup. It’s my sort of circuit. I like the way it flows. With the team’s experience, they have tested before, they had a really good test, TK (Tony Kanaan) did brakes, and I did setup.”

Chilton will be back in the U.S. heading into Road America after a quick trip back home to England last weekend following the test. Prior to Road America after Texas, Chilton spent a couple days in Chicago, which he’s quickly found to be one of his most enjoyable places in the U.S. when here.

“This is my longest trip I’ve ever been away from home. Seven weeks. I think it went quickly,” Chilton explained. “But when I first flew out, the day before the Texas test, which seems months ago. It hit me when I get home. It’s completely changed looks!

“I’m really enjoying the American way of life and the RVs. It’s not like you get out of the car and rush to the hotel. You sit around and chat in the evenings. I have said that since I joined the scenes. I think that’s why people tend to race there longer than other championships.”