Charlie Kimball drove the #83 NovoLog Flex Pen Chip Ganassi Racing Honda to victory lane in today's Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. It was Kimball's first career Izod IndyCar Series victory, the fourth in a row for the Ganassi team in 2013, and the team's fifth consecutive win at Mid-Ohio. Simon Pagenaud came second in the #77 Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports HP Honda, while Dario Franchitti rounded out the podium in the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.
Starting fifth, Kimball ran in the top-five early, before coming in for a pit stop on lap 19. With clean track, Kimball was able to turn very quick lap times and assume the lead when then leader Ryan Hunter-Reay, pit on lap 30.
Kimball did surrender the lead when he came in for his final pit stop on lap 65 to Pagenaud. However, the Camarillo, CA native was able to pass Pagenaud as the Frenchman encountered lapped traffic in the form of E.J. Viso after his final pit stop on lap 72. From there, Kimball went on to win by 5.533 seconds.
|Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, finished fourth|
Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay rounded out the top 5, while championship leader Helio Castroneves finished sixth.
During the post-race press conference, Kimball thanked numerous people. He talked about the commitment team owner Chip Ganassi made to him, and the support of his sponsor Novo Nordisk. Kimball, of course, is diabetic, and manages his blood sugar during the race with help of Novo Nordisk.
Kimball also pointed to the team effort after his practice crash yesterday before qualifying. I asked Kimball how close the team was to not having the car ready to qualify, and while he didn't give specifics, he did say it was close. He did add that there was no way the car would have been ready if not for the help of the other Chip Ganassi Racing crews.
The win makes Kimball the fourth first-time winner on the season, joining James Hinchcliffe, Takuma Sato and Pagenaud. Pagenaud expressed some frustration with Viso, but noted that he wasn't sure he'd have been able to hold off Kimball, had he not surrendered the lead during the tussle with Viso.
As mentioned earlier, Castroneves maintained his lead in the series championship, and now sits 31 points ahead of second-place Scott Dixon, who finished eighth. Hunter-Reay is third 65 points behind Castroneves, with Marco Andretti 76 back. Pagenaud is fifth, 103 points behind.
Next up for the IndyCar Series is the Go Pro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma August 25th at Sonoma Raceway.
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Honda): "It's nice when the team gives you such a great car. 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."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Sunoco "Turbo" KVRT-SH Racing Chevrolet): "It wasn't our weekend. Nothing seemed to go our way. We just have to put this behind us and move on to Sonoma."
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda): "I've got to say, Charlie (Kimball) did a fantastic job today. I gave it all. Just him and Ganassi were stronger. Charlie was bold enough to stick it on the inside and I didn't think he would make it but he did so congrats to him. Congrats to Honda. It's 1-2-3. It's a Honda track so it's important for us to bring a 1-2-3 home. But I've got to say, congrats to Charlie because I gave him hell (laughter)."
ED CARPENTER (No. 22 Fuzzy's Vodka/Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): "We were better than a 20th place finish today. But from a pace standpoint and throwing out the first stint on black tires, it was one of our better road course performances. We used some Firestone red tires in the warm-up and we probably should have used those at the start of the race instead of the blacks. I think we would have picked up more positions in the race with the reds. With the ground that we lost on the first stint and the race going green for so long, it made it too hard to make up that lost ground. It's pretty crazy for two years in a row that the Mid-Ohio race would go green for so long. I 'm really proud of our pace in the middle and end of the race. We just need to keep working on it for the Sonoma race in a couple of weeks. I need to be better at the start of the race next time too. But overall, the Fuzzy's Vodka crew did a great job today."
JUSTIN WILSON (No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda): "The car was pretty good – maybe not perfect but there are always things you want to be better. It was just frustrating we got caught in the middle of the strategies there – the three stop and the two stop – and we had to decide what to do and try to do something different. It was a hard-fought race, pushing like crazy the entire race. Just slipping around out there. There wasn't a lot of grip today so we were slipping all over the place. It was tough. I was hoping we could do a little bit better but we'll just keep pushing away. It's hard to get close enough to make something happen here. It's just tough – nobody's getting even close enough to crash into each other! For a while there we were just trying to do what the leaders were doing. We were saving fuel like they were but it just didn't work for us. We weren't quite good enough today but we'll keep working on it. We're doing the right things and I think we'll have another podium pretty soon."
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet): "If you would have told me we would have finished in the top-10 today, I would have said you were crazy. 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."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "I guess you could say we won the two stopper (pit stop) race today at Mid-Ohio. It was a disappointing day for the Verizon team, we had great pit stops during the race and at the end of the day we did our best. We got stuck on a two pit stop strategy for the race and it was too late by then to make it up. It would have been great to get a win but I'm happy for the top-10 finish and we'll move on to Sonoma in a few weeks."
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO (No. 78 Nuclear Entergy Areva KVRT Chevrolet): "It was an ok result. I wish we could have finished a little bit further up, but we didn't quite have the pace we should have during the second stint. We were in a bit of traffic in the beginning which didn't help either. But, I think there are a lot of positive things that we can take away from this race and hopefully we do learn from it. It was good that we were running with the fast guys this weekend; the whole weekend. Now we can just look at the books again and hopefully we'll do better next one."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Midas / Big O Tires Honda): "It was a struggle all day. The car was loose from the get-go, really loose. Here, where you have these high commitment corners when you are loose it's a struggle and unfortunately we never really came to grips with that. Obviously I'm disappointed. We wanted to show better at my home race but unfortunately this is all we had today. We've just got to keep soldiering on. Nothing is coming easy to us right now. We're just not competitive so we have to just keep working hard. We are looking forward to the test day in Sonoma, without a doubt. Hopefully we can get out there and get a lot done."
JAMES JAKES (No. 16 Acorn Stairlifts Honda): "It was a pretty frustrating race really. We started tenth, lost a spot on the start. Everyone else was on red tires and the three guys that were on blacks in front of us Marco, Pagenaud and ourselves all caught up to each other and I thought we were in a good position. We had pretty good laps going and I was quite happy with the balance of the car but then we just got stuck behind the guys that were doing the two stop race and that just killed us. It was difficult to overtake and we struggled from then on."
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda): "We just didn't have what we wanted today. I think we worked really hard and we had good stops. We just had an unfortunate incident with the rear of the car. We got it sorted pretty quickly and we were able to run all the laps out. It's just tough when you have days like these, but I think we have a great bunch of guys. We'll sort it out and move on to the next race."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 1 DHL Chevrolet): "We picked the wrong strategy today, we went with what we thought. If we had one yellow in there it would have been our race – it would have been between Will (Power) and I, I think. Will and I were on the same strategy and we both worked really hard to save fuel, I know I worked my tail off. It is some of the hardest work in a race car to save that much fuel and to have nothing to show for it, that sucks. But we'll pick up and head to the next one. It's frustrating; things just aren't falling into place right now… we can't be finishing fifth."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing Honda): "Tough weekend, tough race. It was a struggle for speed the whole day. I appreciated all the hard work the boys did to overcome the issues we had this weekend. We finished the race but we're not satisfied at all. We have two tests at Sonoma before the race weekend there to figure out this road course tire. Hopefully we'll find the speed we need in the ABC Supply car."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 27 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet): "I definitely like doing the three-stopper better than the two-stopper, but with where we started, and it was my mistake in qualifying who put us in the back, we knew we had to be the first guy to do something on the three-stopper. So, we went for that early stop, and it was looking like it was going to work out well… if I had managed to get Helio (Castroneves) on his outlap there on the last stint, it would have made our race look a whole lot different for us. But ultimately, we were a bit off from some of these guys, no doubt. If we had gotten ahead of them, we might have been able to stay ahead of them, but we weren't great in traffic. Huge effort from the GoDaddy guys – really great in the pits all day. We had one little bobble on one stop but other than that it was fun. It's fun running around Mid-Ohio flat out. But yeah, from where we were at the start of that last stint, it would have been nice to finish fifth or sixth instead of 10th. With the season we've had, anytime you get a top-10 finish in this series is good. If you look at the guys in front of us – guys like Scott Dixon, Justin Wilson and Marco Andretti – it's not like we're slumming it; it's just that competitive right now. We missed it by the smallest amount today, but the team did such a great job all weekend. Big congrats to Charlie – that's awesome. I know what that feels like. We'll take this and move on to the next one. I feel good, the team's working well and we just gotta put our heads down and fight."
E.J. VISO (No. 5 Team Venezuela PDVSA CITGO Chevrolet): "Well, definitely finishing 17th is not at all what we were looking for. I think many factors during the race didn't play in our favor. I believe the direction that we went when we made the decision on how much downforce we were going to put on the car didn't help. We just trimmed a lot to be faster in the straights, but definitely cost us some time in the corners. At the same time, we were asking a bit too much from the tires that we wanted them a little bit sooner than expected. The second to last pit stop really cost us time as well. Losing those three or four seconds allowed the group of cars behind me to cycle out in front of me in the next pit stop. Anyways, these things happen and all we have to do now is stay strong and head into the next one."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 25 RC Cola Chevrolet): "For whatever reason we just didn't have the same car we had in warm up. I didn't have the car for a three-stop race; we were just hanging on. We're going to have to make something happen (in Sonoma). I definitely want another Firestone Fast Six and to build on that. We need to find points for the RC (Cola) car wherever we can."
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 7 Dragon Racing Chevrolet): "Very disappointed for the guys because we had it going on in the first part of the race. We felt really strong but when the track gripped up. We lost the balance and lost pretty much everything and never were able to get back at it. It wasn't a bad day starting 14th, but there was really nothing great about today. I was able to gain a couple of positions early in the race but fell back after our first pit stop and never had time to get caught up."
SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA (No. 6 Dragon Racing Chevrolet): "A bit bummed with today's result for the #6 TrueCar Dragon Racing crew. It looked like we were going to have a solid run gaining a bunch of positions early in the race making it up to 13th. Unfortunately my second stint of blacks gave the car bad balance and we couldn't hold a solid pace. We kept fighting all day with a good car and tried to get back into the rhythm, but couldn't gain back the positions we had early in the race. We have made a lot of progress in the last few races but have not been able to show it in our results. Step by step we are getting where we want to be and need to keep moving forward."
ORIOL SERVIA (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet): "During the parade lap I was thinking about what I would do on the first lap in a perfect world, and that's exactly how it played out; I passed five or six cars in one lap and it was great. But I was pushing really hard and in Turn Nine I pushed a little too hard and honestly almost lost it. I was lucky to save it and lost four or five positions. It was just a little mistake and we were pushing hard but with no yellows and not much of a chance to do anything with the strategy there weren't really many miracles to pull out. We ended up 14th and I'm a little disappointed, because we were really hoping for a lot better, and the National Guard Chevy was really good, but when it's this competitive and you start at the back, it's really hard to make a miracle happen."
TRISTAN VAUTIER (No. 55 Angie's List Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): "It started off as a great weekend with the Angie's List car and we had high hopes after qualifying 11th. It was just very positive after having a rough stretch of races before Mid-Ohio. Unfortunately the engine let go this morning in warm-up which set us 10 spots back on the starting grid. We tried to go with an alternative fuel strategy but it didn't end up working out so we had to conserve fuel for the whole second half of the race. It's frustrating because I wanted to do better for our first weekend with Angie's List but I think we have something to build on for the future."
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-Chevy, 90, Running
5. (1) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Chevy, 90, Running
6. (14) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 90, Running
7. (3) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running
8. (7) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running
9. (4) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Chevy, 90, Running
10. (12) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Chevy, 90, Running
11. (9) Simona De Silvestro, Dallara-Chevy, 90, Running
12. (13) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 90, Running
13. (10) James Jakes, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running
14. (17) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Chevy, 90, Running
15. (16) James Davison, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running
16. (24) Luca Filippi, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running
17. (11) EJ Viso, Dallara-Chevy, 89, Running
18. (22) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 89, Running
19. (20) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Chevy, 89, Running
20. (23) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy, 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-Chevy, 64, Off course
Winners average speed: 117.825
Time of Race: 01:43:29.1371
Margin of victory: 5.5334
Lead changes: 5
Hunter-Reay 1 – 30
Kimball 31 – 41
Pagenaud 42 – 47
Kimball 48 – 64
Pagenaud 65 – 72
Kimball 73 – 85
Point Standings: Castroneves 453, Dixon 422, Hunter-Reay 388, Andretti 377, Pagenaud 350, Franchitti 342, Hinchcliffe 325, Kimball 325, Wilson 320, Kanaan 313.