Max Chilton celebrated his 26th birthday on Friday practice at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama at the weekend. The venue hosted a recent test where Max showed serious pace, putting down the second fastest time, so confidence was high heading into the venue once more, this time to race.

Practice 1 and 2 was spent looking for balance and grip, the latter of which there was very little on either the primary or alternate tyre. In Practice 3 on Saturday things improved and Max finished the session in P10 with a best lap time of 1:07:536 to put himself ahead of teammates Tony Kanaan in the No. 10 car and Charlie Kimball in the No. 83. He continued to improve heading into qualifying where he secured P9, once again, ahead of both teammates. Scott Dixon in the fourth Ganassi car managed P4. Max’s starting position showed improvement on 2016, 2 places higher than he managed last year.

Commenting after qualifying, Max said:

“Well considering we weren’t great yesterday, this is the best turnaround we’ve had since I’ve been Ganassi. But this is where we should’ve been or even higher because we were P2 here at the test a month ago. I was slightly disappointed with that last run – there was definitely more in the car there. We did something to go backwards. On the whole though, we’re starting in the top 10 and hopefully we’ll have a good day tomorrow.”

In Sunday’s race, it was an up and down day for Max, which followed the theme of the weekend. He brought the Gallagher car home in P12.

“We didn’t start the weekend all that great, but then we qualified well. We were pretty quick in the morning warm-up in the wet and in the race we had one of the best race paces, we just lost positions where it really counted on the start and restarts. It’s just frustrating because we have really good speed out there, we just can’t get the luck we need and put it all together.

The next race is in Phoenix for the Desert Diamond West Valley Grand Prix on 29th April.