INDIANAPOLIS -- With eight laps to go Sunday, Max Chilton was leading in his second Indianapolis 500 start at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The 26-year-old British driver was a bit disappointed he couldn’t hang on, but all things considered, he couldn’t be too upset about his career-best fourth-place finish in the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.
Chilton led 50 laps in the No. 8 Gallagher Honda, 22 more than Ryan Hunter-Reay, who had the next most. Chilton had only led 18 laps in 21 previous Verizon IndyCar Series races.
“We stayed out of trouble,” Chilton said. “We had a lot go our way. You don’t win this race without luck and we had a couple of things go our way. We were a lap down, so we had plenty of luck. We were fast on our own. They worked together to draft up to me at the end, the last few laps. I’m happy with the whole day in general.”
Chilton, who started 15th, was a lap down early in the race, but caught up with the help of fuel strategy and cautions.
“I struggled like hell in the first stint. I couldn’t run in dirty air (behind other cars),” Chilton said. “That was the problem at the end because I just struggled too much in dirty air. I was quick out front. I tried everything I had. I wasn’t as good in dirty air. We were a lap down 25 laps in, and to finish fourth and lead the race is pretty amazing, and it’s quite a testament to Chip Ganassi Racing and Gallagher.”
Helio Castroneves and eventual race winner Takuma Sato both passed Chilton on Lap 194.
“Because Chilton was in front, it was actually helping me get a little bit of a draft,” Castroneves said. “That’s why I made the pass.”
Two laps later, Ed Jones got past Chilton for third place.
Still, it was Chilton’s best Verizon IndyCar Series finish, topping his previous best of seventh twice, and earned $484,129 awarded at Monday night's Indianapolis 500 Victory Celebration. It also completed a strong month for the Chip Ganassi Racing driver who finished seventh in the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS road course on May 13.
Chilton was the top finisher among the four Ganassi drivers in the Indy 500, with teammate Tony Kanaan placing fifth, Charlie Kimball 25th and Scott Dixon 32nd. Chilton moved up to 11th in the point standings after six races.
“To come from a lap down to lead and have a chance to win here at Indy is a massive accomplishment for the whole team," he said.
Chilton and the rest of the Verizon IndyCar Series field shifts gears this week for a street-course doubleheader, with the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear. Races are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday on the 2.35-mile temporary Raceway at Belle Isle Park circuit. Coverage both days begins at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network. Ticket information for the race weekend is available at detroitgp.com.
For more information about Honda Racing, visit http://hpd.honda.com/.