Charlie Kimball rebounded yesterday qualifying 5th after totaling his primary car in practice and today he drove a perfect race and had the best strategy and took his first win in his 45th career start at Mid Ohio.
Kimball’s win is a feel good story. He was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 2007 while competing in Formula Three in Europe which required him to be hospitalized and put his racing career on hold. That did not hurt his determination and returned to America in 2009 to run in the Firestone Indy Lights series. He didn’t win a race, but he finished 4th in points in 2010 and in signed with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2011 to race in IndyCar full time and after 2 full seasons under his belt, he has improved tremendously this year and is running as well as his Ganassi teammates.
Before today, Kimball had only led 15 laps in his IZOD IndyCar Series career and only had 1 podium to his credit. Today he led 46 laps and with today’s win puts himself tied for 7th in the standings with James Hinchcliffe.
Kimball pitted on lap 19, 11 laps before the early leaders Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power and Scott Dixon, who were all on a two stop strategy, and was able to pick up the lead when they pitted on lap 30. From there Kimball ran a fast paced race and was able to stay in the lead. Thru the middle of the race, Kimball was held up by E.J. Viso and his closest rival Simon Pagenaud began gnawing at Kimball’s sizable lead. Kimball pitted for the final time on lap 65, while Pagenaud was able build up a cushion on Kimball. When Pagenaud pitted, he came out right in front of Kimball, Kimball, in desparation mode to catch Pagenaud, ran wide in turn one but with warm tires to his advantage, caught Pagenaud in the esses and completed the pass. Kimball pulled away from there and widened his gap to 5.533 seconds at the checkered flag.
“It’s nice when the team gives you such a great car,” said Kimball. “The No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen car was quick. All I needed to do was to hit the lap times they needed me to. For a while they were saying 67.5s, and I threw down a couple 67.1s. They said OK, see if you can do a 66. We just kept pushing the limit. Simon (Pagenaud) was on a similar strategy. I caught traffic at just some of the wrong times, so that meant that he came out of pit lane ahead of us. But we had the momentum to take the lead and make the pass for what turned out to be the win.”
It is the 4th straight win for Chip Ganassi Racing who had not won before Pocono on July 7th, it is the 4th straight win for Honda as well. Chevrolet and Honda are now evenly matched in terms of wins for the first time since the introduction of the new engine formula in 2012.
Pagenaud was on a similar 3 stop strategy as Kimball and got to the front the same way Kimball did and picked up his second podium of the season (his first was at Detroit Race 2 where he won the race).
Dario Franchitti was on a 2 stop strategy like Hunter-Reay, Dixon and Power and changed his strategy late in the going when no yellows flew in order to make the 2 stop strategy viable and finished in 3rd place. Power got by Hunter-Reay on pit road on their last pit stop after Hunter-Reay’s team had fueling issues which delayed his stop and finished 4th. Hunter-Reay rounded out the top 5.
Points leader Helio Castroneves started in 14th and made use of good strategy to finish in 6th place, maintaining his points lead over Scott Dixon with 5 races remaining.
“If you would have told me we would have finished in the top-10 today, I would have said you were crazy,” said Castroneves. “We made great strategy calls throughout the race. Working with Mr. Penske is awesome, he relays great information over the radio. It was a great day for our PPG Automotive Refinish Chevrolet. I know that it was only a sixth place finish but it could win the Championship at the end of the year. I have said all along that we will continue to do our thing and not change a thing and it will pay off at the end of the day.”
The two debutants James Davison and Luca Filippi ran quiet, methodical races and finished in 15th and 16th respectively. Filippi started the race in 24th while Davison finished in 16th.
1. (5) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running.
2. (8) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running.
3. (6) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running.
4. (2) Will Power, Dallara-Chevrolet, 90, Running.
5. (1) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Chevrolet, 90, Running.
6. (14) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevrolet, 90, Running.
7. (3) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running.
8. (7) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running.
9. (4) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Chevrolet, 90, Running.
10. (12) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Chevrolet, 90, Running.
11. (9) Simona de Silvestro, Dallara-Chevrolet, 90, Running.
12. (13) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevrolet, 90, Running.
13. (10) James Jakes, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running.
14. (17) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Chevrolet, 90, Running.
15. (16) James Davison, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running.
16. (24) Luca Filippi, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running.
17. (11) E.J. Viso, Dallara-Chevrolet, 89, Running.
18. (22) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 89, Running.
19. (20) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Chevrolet, 89, Running.
20. (23) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevrolet, 89, Running.
21. (21) Tristan Vautier, Dallara-Honda, 89, Running.
22. (15) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 89, Running.
23. (18) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 88, Running.
24. (19) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevrolet, 64, Off Course.
Winners average speed: 117.825. Time of Race: 1:43:29.1371. Margin of Victory: 5.5334 seconds. Cautions: 0 for 0 laps. Lead Changes: 5 among 3 drivers.
Lap Leaders: Hunter-Reay 1-30, Kimball 31-41, Pagenaud 42-47, Kimball 48-64, Pagenaud 65-72, Kimball 73-90.
Top 10 in standings