MONTEREY, Calif. – It was inevitable. Tony Kanaan’s qualifying lap record of 1 minute, 15.090 seconds for an Indy Lights race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca tumbled after 18 years.
Max Chilton’s quick lap of 1:14.2329 in the 30-minute qualifying session for Race 1 of the Indy Lights Grand Prix Presented by Cooper Tires and Powered by Mazda on the 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course reset the mark posted by the Brazilian on Sept. 7, 1997, in the penultimate race of the season on his way to winning the series title by four points over Helio Castroneves.
“I think it’s more impressive for Kanaan that he held it that whole way,” said Chilton, who is completing his maiden Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season with Carlin. “That deserves more credit. I’ve just come and stolen it with more technology.”
The 45-minute Race 1 of the championship-deciding weekend takes the green flag at 3:45 p.m. (local/Pacific) today, with the one-hour second race scheduled for 2:40 p.m. Sept. 13. Watch streaming of both races, augmented by real-time Timing & Scoring and track audio, on racecontrol.indycar.com.
Chilton, who is fifth in the standings, turned the quickest lap through two practice sessions Sept. 11 of 1:15.8720. He didn’t expect such a dramatic fall-off in lap time in the qualifying session.
“I thought maybe 15.2 (seconds),” said Chilton, who earned his first Indy Lights victory in July at Iowa Speedway. “No way I thought we would go into the low 14s. I would have never put money on it. It's a difficult track to learn and it ’s a fantastic track; I just love it. That lap was probably the best I’ve done this year. To get double pole is even better.”
Kyle Kaiser of nearby Santa Clara, Calif., who has turned considerably more laps than Chilton at the mountaintop course, earned a front-row start in the Juncos Racing entry with a lap of 1:14.3586.
Championship contenders Spencer Pigot (Juncos Racing) and Ed Jones (Carlin) will be on Row 2. Jack Harvey of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian, who enters Race 1 with a six-point lead over Pigot in the championship, qualified fifth and will share Row 3 with Sean Rayhall of 8Star Motorsports.