Callum Ilott is entering the seventh race of his young NTT IndyCar Series career at this weekend’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park, where he wrapped up opening practice in eighth.
The 23-year-old clocked a 1m07.0861s lap time around the 2.3-mile, 17-turn natural terrain road course to stand as the third fastest Chevrolet driver on the day. It was a stout showing in a return trip back to Alabama, with the Juncos Hollinger Racing pilot participated in a 13-car test less than a month ago.
“We got the chance to test I think three weeks ago, as well,” Ilott said. “It was a great chance to kind of find what we needed to improve. Yeah, we came into this event running. Again, it’s another FP1, which was strong, but at the same time it was done on the same set of tires as everyone else.”
The team is debuting this weekend with Racing for Children’s, with the car featuring handprints of children the cause supports and their logo shown on the side pods. They will continue to work with RCF through the 2022 season.
“For us it is very special,” team owner Ricardo Juncos said, via Peacock. “It’s a great honor to help kids with cancer and blood disease, great for everybody. So we are proud to be a part of this, for us it is big. We are going to try our best to help as much as we can. So far it’s been great, it’s an honor for us to be with them.”
Through the first three races of the season, JHR has a best finish of 16th last month at the Texas Motor Speedway. The speed has simply not been there for Illott, the performance this weekend thus far seems promising.
“When we got to test here three weeks ago, I couldn’t turn,” said Ilott, who has a best qualifying result of 18th (Long Beach, 2021). “It was quite a shock how physical it is here. I think I was reminded afterwards that others have suffered the same fate when they first come here.
“We sorted that out, made it drivable. We’ve ironed a few things out. It’s good. It’s an up-and-down circuit. Lovely artwork around. If you like that sort of stuff, it’s a great place to come.”
If the pace carries over into qualifying tomorrow, Ilott could elevate the No. 77 Chevrolet into its best starting position in his time behind the wheel.