“48 hours ago, I even put bets that I wasn’t going to make the race,” says Ilott, not he’s in, a look at his week at Indy

INDIANAPOLIS — Callum Ilott was a rookie last year, but witnessed what Indy is all about as a sophomore this week. It’s been a miserable visit to Indianapolis for him with being terrible in the test back in April, slowest on Opening Day (34th out of 34), 32nd quickest on Thursday and last again on Fast Friday.

The same problems from April’s test followed his No. 77 Dallara-Chevrolet over to May. The car just wouldn’t go straight. It was sketchy. With it feeling this way on Friday, they decided enough was enough. Might as well change cars.

Some pondered if it was far too late. Why not swap them out earlier? Well, you can’t turn back time and if they went forward with the car that they had, they’d be the one looking on the outside in on Sunday night.

The team only turned 31 laps in the test, 80 laps on Opening Day, 71 laps on Thursday and seven laps on Friday. That’s 189 total laps and 3 mph from the next closest car.

“Last year was the first experience for me at the 500. There was no Bump Day. It was quite an easy process. Made life a lot more relaxing,” said Ilott.

“48 hours ago, I even put bets that I wasn’t going to make the race basically because you just knew it wasn’t going well. At that point then it becomes a pit of a panic, desperation. For sure for me, I was probably the first to be quite desperate as soon as I drove the car on Wednesday. But we had time to work with it.

“Coming into today, I was really confident. Honestly I just knew if we just got a clear couple of runs, the car had pace.”

They remarkably changed the car overnight and were ready for the morning practice session. The best four-lap average they could do was 224 mph.

Ilott went out early and wasn’t fast enough. He was only 227.720 mph on his first run. That was bumped. He went out again. They jumped nearly four mph over the course of four laps in qualifying with a four-lap average of 231.182 mph.

The speed put him 27th and he’d only lose one more spot the rest of the way and will start next Sunday’s 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500 in 28th.

“I don’t know where to start with that. It’s been a tough week, a tough month actually from the open test,” Ilott said. “We changed chassis middle of yesterday. I was kind of given an almost impossible task from what some people said. Just tried to keep the confidence high.

“The first run wasn’t great. I don’t think my engineers would even look at the video because they were scared to watch it. We just managed to turn the car around into something that was fast, managed to scrape four laps out of it.

“So yeah, super special. In some ways it’s kind of one of those never-give-up situations, prove people wrong on that side. At the end of the day kind of feels like a win even though you’re 27th or something. That’s life sometimes.”

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