Chilton Charges to first Indy Lights Win

Englishman dedicates his Iowa Speedway Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires victory to former teammate Jules Bianchi.

Max Chilton broke through to claim his first Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires victory at Iowa Speedway following a thrilling duel with Carlin teammate and fellow Englishman Ed Jones. Chilton dedicated the victory to his friend and ex-Marussia/Manor Formula 1 teammate Jules Bianchi, who passed away Friday as a result of injuries sustained during last year’s Japanese Grand Prix.

Florida teenager RC Enerson continued to impress with a third-place finish in the Indy Lights Iowa 100 for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian.

Prior commitments prevented Chilton from attending an earlier test session at Iowa Speedway in June, but he professed a liking for the tricky, 0.894-mile oval immediately after stepping from the car after his initial experience during Thursday’s test day. The Carlin team also proved to be fast learners on the oval, using the experience of veteran engineer Geoff Fickling to excellent effect as both drivers picked up pace throughout the weekend before Chilton sped to the pole, breaking J.R. Hildebrand’s existing two-lap qualifying record (161.183mph) with an average speed of 162.293mph.

Jones qualified just 0.0601sec slower in second, and the two blue-and-white Carlin Dallara-Mazda IL-15s immediately established themselves in the lead at the green flag. An impressive early charge saw Enerson leap from sixth on the grid to third, earning himself the RePlay XD Move of the Race Award, while teammate and championship leader Jack Harvey slotted into fourth.

The leaders came up behind some slower traffic as the 100-lap race neared its halfway point, and Jones grasped an opportunity on Lap 51 to slip past Chilton for the lead. Just 13 laps later, as the leaders continued to negotiate traffic, Chilton dived for the inside in Turn 3 to reclaim the lead just before Ethan Ringel brought his car to a halt on the race track for race’s only full-course caution.

Chilton took advantage of the clear track ahead of him at the restart to cement his authority on the proceedings, taking the checkered flag a comfortable 6.1172sec clear of Jones. Enerson, 18, from New Port Richey, Fla., secured his fourth podium finish of the season, while Kyle Kaiser found a way past Jack Harvey for fourth with a dozen laps remaining.

Harvey still managed to extend his championship lead to 18 points over Spencer Pigot (Juncos Racing), who finished a lapped eighth. Jones is now just two points further behind as the series heads next to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for two road course events on Aug. 1-2.