Carlin breaks new ground in IndyCar with Chilton, Kimball

Photo: IndyCar
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Carlin is among the most accomplished racing operations you’ll find anywhere in the world. But, with the majority of their exploits being in Europe, and in junior series at that, many in the U.S. may not be familiar with their prowess.

A quick glance at their resume will reveal a small powerhouse of sorts. They currently compete in seven championships, five in Europe – the FIA Formula 2 Championship, FIA Formula 3 European Championship, F4 British Championship, and Euroformula Open Championship – and two in the U.S. – the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires (they’re not entered at St. Petersburg this weekend, but expectations are that they’ll grace the Indy Lights grid in more of a part-time capacity this year) and a new, two-car entry in the Verizon IndyCar Series with Max Chilton and Charlie Kimball.

Carlin has fielded entires for such notable drivers as Formula 1 champions Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel, along with a number of other F1 stars, like Daniel Ricciardo and Kevin Magnussen. Even current IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden has raced with Carlin previously, along with the aforementioned Kimball and 2018 IndyCar rookie Robert Wickens.

Carlin has also won championships in European Formula 3, British Formula 4, and Indy Lights, and has taken victory at the prestigious Macau Grand Prix.

And now, they look to begin a new chapter in entering the Verizon IndyCar Series, their first venture in a headlining open wheel championship.

Both Chilton and Kimball, now IndyCar veterans entering their third and eighth seasons respectively, join the newly formed effort in hopes of quickly turning the program into an IndyCar frontrunner.

Max Chilton looks to start off on a high note with Carlin. Photo: IndyCar

“I have 100 percent confidence in what Carlin can do as a team, and I’m just glad to be back on board with them for the 2018 season,” said Chilton, who competed with Carlin in Indy Lights in 2015. “St. Pete is such a great street circuit that really offers top-notch racing for both the drivers and the fans, and it doesn’t hurt that the city itself is so welcoming. I’m looking forward to getting the No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet back out on track in St. Pete and hopefully bringing a good result back to Carlin for their first Indy car race.”

Kimball, who joins Carlin after spending seven years with Chip Ganassi Racing, is also optimistic about their prospects ahead of the 2018 season and asserted that, if all goes according to plan, the team has all the potential to be up front from the getgo.

Charlie Kimball joins Carlin. Photo: IndyCar

“We had a few test days last week and while time is always limited, I think the No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet will be in the mix once we hit the track this weekend,” Kimball detailed. “I’ve set high expectations for myself, and I know (team principal) Trevor (Carlin) and the team didn’t join the Verizon IndyCar Series just to make up the numbers-they want to win, too.”

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Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night
USACRacing.com / DB3 Inc.
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On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.


Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)