Max Chilton re-signs with Chip Ganassi Racing for 2017 IndyCar season

Max Chilton will return to the No. 8 Chip Ganassi Racing car for the 2017 IndyCar season. Photo Credit: Joe Skibinski/Courtesy of IndyCar
Max Chilton will return to the No. 8 Chip Ganassi Racing car for the 2017 IndyCar season. Photo Credit: Joe Skibinski/Courtesy of IndyCar /

Max Chilton will return for his second IndyCar season with Chip Ganassi Racing, as the team announced Wednesday it has retained the British driver for 2017.

Max Chilton is getting his wish. The Verizon IndyCar Series rookie, who told FanSided in September he hoped to return to Chip Ganassi Racing, was declared Wednesday as the driver of the No. 8 CGR Honda for the 2017 season.

It’s unknown if the Briton’s contract is the multi-year deal that Ganassi was said to be angling for this offseason, or simply another one-year agreement. But now Chilton will have the opportunity to improve upon a decent rookie campaign that did not see him reach any podiums, yet see him earn two Top 10 finishes at Phoenix and Watkins Glen.

“I think we were able to build a solid foundation in my rookie year in the Verizon IndyCar Series with the support of [primary sponsor] Gallagher and the team,” he said Wednesday, via “The learning curve is very steep here, and the field is separated by just a few seconds from top to bottom with really talented teams and drivers, which makes the competition incredibly close.

“Having a year of experience now to adapt to the car and learn all of the courses on the schedule is huge for us. Chip and Gallagher give us everything we need to be competitive and go out to contend for wins, so I’m optimistic for the direction of the No. 8 Gallagher team heading into next season.”

Along with signing Chilton, CGR also reached a separate agreement with Gallagher to continue its primary sponsorship of the No. 8 entry for what will be its second year in IndyCar as well. Wednesday’s announcement is the best possible news for all involved as it provides something that Chilton himself has been outspoken about and that’s consistency.

Chip Ganassi Racing has been looking for a young but steady presence to fill the No. 8 entry and Chilton gives them that as the first person to drive it in a second season since the car was added for Ryan Briscoe in 2014.

For Chilton, the deal provides him a consistent home where he can continue to hone his skills as an IndyCar driver. As he mentions above, he needs that extra race time to become a better driver, and now he’s going to be able to get it. Great racing drivers rarely emerge in their first season unless you happen to be Chilton’s teammate Scott Dixon.

And even for IndyCar fans, this is positive news. The league is building a great roster of drivers 25 and under that includes Alexander Rossi, Josef Newgarden, Conor Daly, Carlos Munoz and Spencer Pigot (assuming Pigot returns to Ed Carpenter Racing). Fans want to see the league foster and develop talent, and signings like Chilton’s are a necessary step in doing that.

Next: Oriol Servia to drive for Rahal in 2017 IndyCar season

With Chilton returning to the No. 8 entry, there is only one full-time race seat left in IndyCar: the No. 11 KV Racing car formerly belonging to Sebastien Bourdais. Who will be the person that takes the last spot on the 2017 grid? A decision should come shortly as the new season begins in mid-March.

What do you think of Chip Ganassi Racing’s decision to re-sign Max Chilton for 2017?