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IndyCar: Carlin Racing 2018 Review

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Editor’s note: Over the next two weeks, MotorSportsTalk will review how each organization in the IndyCar Series performed in 2018 and also take a look ahead to 2019. We kicked off the series Wednesday with Juncos Racing and continued on Thursday with Meyer Shank Racing. We continue today with Carlin Racing.

The addition of Carlin Racing to the IndyCar paddock is undoubtedly a boon for the series. A powerhouse in Europe’s junior categories, with multiple championships across a variety of series, and an Indy Lights championship to boot (2016, with Ed Jones), Carlin adds a lot of depth to a paddock already laden with talent.

The 2018 season, their first in the IndyCar ranks, was always going to be an uphill battle as they were starting from scratch and without a technical partnership with another team to help bolster their effort.

However, they improved as the year went on, and have a strong foundation on which to build going forward.

Charlie Kimball

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Team: Carlin Racing
Years in IndyCar: 8
Career wins and podiums: 1 wins, 6 podiums
2018 final standing: 17th
2018 final stats: 17 starts; 0 wins, 0 podiums, 1 top five; 6 top 10s
2018 best race finish: 5th (Streets of Toronto)

SEASON WRAPUP: Charlie Kimball gave Carlin a handful of bright spots in the team’s debut season. His six top 10s were the only ones the team scored, and they all came after Detroit, highlighting the team’s improvements in the second half of the year.

A mechanical problem ended his day early at Sonoma Raceway to conclude the season, but better days are likely ahead of Kimball and Carlin.

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2019: Assuming he returns to Carlin in 2019 (he is yet to be confirmed) Kimball will look to continue to improve, with the goal of the team’s first podium in sight.

QUOTE (following Sonoma, where he finished 22nd): “It’s too bad we had a mechanical problem today. I can’t complain about the preparation of the No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet from the team, the mechanical issue was just out of their control. All year the team has done an incredible job, even today our pit stops were on point. It was a hard day out there today. I think we’re still missing something in the grip and platform window, but now we at least have a year’s worth of data to learn from and be even better next season. A huge thanks to the whole Carlin team, Novo Nordisk, and everyone who supported us this season.”

 

Max Chilton

Photo: IndyCar

Team: Carlin Racing
Years in IndyCar: 3
Career wins and podiums: 0 wins, 0 podiums
2018 final standing: 19th
2018 final stats: 17 starts; 0 wins, 0 podiums, 0 top fives; 0 top 10s
2018 best race finish: 11th (Detroit, Race 2)

SEASON WRAPUP: Chilton had by far the worse season of the Carlin duo, without a single top 10 to his name in 2018. This comes after a 2017 season in which he scored six top 10s and battled for an Indy 500 win, with Chip Ganassi Racing.

To call the season frustrating might be an understatement, but given that this was Carlin’s debut year, the struggles can easily be classified as growing pains that any first-year team experiences.

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2019: Like Kimball, Chilton will look to improve in 2019, and get himself back into the top 10 on a regular basis.

QUOTE (following Sonoma, where he finished 21st): “We were obviously hoping for a better result this weekend for the No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet, but I’m proud of how this team came together this weekend and really all season. This whole weekend has been tough, and the race was a difficult one, but we had much better pace in the second half of the race. That’s a big positive that we can take into next season and it’s even more data we can use here and at other road and street courses next season. Thank you to Carlin and everyone at Gallagher for making this first season such a good one.”

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Penske won’t discuss if Castroneves returns to Indy in 2020

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INDIANAPOLIS – NBC Sports.com asked Indianapolis 500 winning team owner Roger Penske if three-time Indy winner Helio Castroneves would return to the team in 2020?

Penske immediately brushed off the question.

“We’re not going to talk about that right now,” Penske told NBC Sports.com. “I’m just not going to talk about it. We’re going to have a meeting about it before we decide, but I’m not going to talk about that right now.

“Simon won the race and that is what I’m focused on right now.”

Simon Pagenaud, gave Penske a record-extending 18thIndy 500 win on Sunday. Penske confirmed that Pagenaud will be back with the team in 2020 after he scored his first win in Sunday’s 103rdIndianapolis 500.

Castroneves was an NTT IndyCar Series regular at Team Penske from 2000 until the 2017 season. After that, Castroneves was shifted over to the team’s Acura IMSA Sports Car program, but the three-time Indy 500 winner was given a ride at both races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway the past two years.

The popular driver from Brazil is trying to join AJ Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears as four-time Indy 500 winners.

But the whispers in Gasoline Alley indicate his future with Team Penske at Indy remain uncertain.

“I’ve heard the rumors, too,” Castroneves told NBC Sports.com on pit lane after his disappointing finish in the Indy 500. “I will definitely give it a good, hard think about coming back in 2020. I want to be the rest of the season, here.”

But, will Castroneves run the Indy 500 again?

“Who knows?” Castroneves told NBC Sports.com. “Let’s see what happens.”

Castroneves’s bid for a fourth Indianapolis 500 was derailed in a pit road incident after his first pit stop when he ran into James Davison’s Chevrolet on the team’s first pit stop on Lap 30.

The front wing of Castroneves’s Chevrolet was damaged and INDYCAR officials gave him a “Drive Through” penalty for “Avoidable Contact.” Castroneves would ultimate drop three laps down but finished one lap down in 18thplace.

Castroneves explained what happened to him earlier in the race and how it affected the rest of his Indy 500.

“The accident that happened in the pits hurt us for sure,” Castroneves explained. “We had a problem with the fuel mapping, and I couldn’t go over 200 miles an hour for four or five laps. We lost 35 seconds. There was a bug in the system.

“Then, we went back out and that was it. I wasn’t able to recoup after that. I was excited. The car was very, very good entering the race.”

Castroneves spoke with second-place finisher Alexander Rossi, who was furious with the driver from Brazil earlier in the race for not moving out of the way, even though he was three laps down at the time.

The two drivers hugged, and Castroneves walked back up pit lane.

“I did what the team told me to do, and they told me to go as fast as I could,” Castroneves explained after talking to Rossi. “It’s racing and everybody is upset they didn’t win.”

Castroneves hopes his walk up pit lane is not the final time as an Indy 500 competitor.

But it could be.

“I hope I can come back next year,” Castroneves said. “I’m really upset as a competitor, but extremely happy for Team Penske and for Simon Pagenaud for winning the race.

“The good news is I go back to the Acura sports car, but I will be dreaming about coming back here again.”