IZOD IndyCar Series: Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio
Topics: Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio
August 4, 2013
THE MODERATOR: Thank you so much for your time today, congratulations on the podium finishes.
We are now pleased would be joined by today's race winner, Charlie Kimball of Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing. This is Charlie's first career IZOD IndyCar Series victory. It came in his 45th IndyCar start, and this is only his second start at Mid‑Ohio. He missed last year's race due to an injury sustained in testing, and this is also the fifth consecutive win for Chip Ganassi Racing here at Mid‑Ohio.
Congratulations, and talk about today he's race and that pass on Pagenaud in the closing laps.
CHARLIE KIMBALL: I feel like maybe Mid‑Ohio and I have come to terms. She broke my hand last year and I got a win out of her this year. I think we are just about square now.
Overall, the team made a great call strategy wise early. We talked about it in the meetings this morning with Scott and Dario, and we kind of talked about going to an alternate strategy as much as possible to hedge the bets for Chip so that we had the opportunity for a race win.
We knew we had the car to do it. We knew that we had the pace, consistency. I made that gap in that second stint to be able to come out ahead of Hunter‑Reay, and at that point then, we just had to modulate the gap to Simon.
I got caught in some traffic I think on that third sting when I was on Blacks and I knew I'm on was on Reds because he started on those primary Firestones. And he came out of the pit lane just ahead of me, and the traffic I was sighting got clear or did get clear of him. And then on the run down the back straight, I was committed to using my last push‑to‑pass to get up to him, and went down the inside.
And he said afterwards, he goes: Man, I didn't think you were going to be able to keep it on the track when he went by me. He said, that was pretty late. Which was interesting, because I thought I could have gotten deeper if I needed to. I didn't gather it up as much as I expected I would have to at the exit of four, just sort of settled into it.
We knew the Reds were scrubbed. They weren't new. We used our new sets earlier in the race, and the way the stints worked out, the strategy wasn't‑‑ it wasn't perfect, but you can't complain too much when you come away with a race win.
Q. Talk about your first win, some hurdles along the way, that you might never have thought you would have gotten here. Just talk about your first win and what it means.
CHARLIE KIMBALL: Well, it's really special. And it's special for me, but it's more importantly special for everyone that's helped me get here, Chip taking the risk on me three years ago as a young rookie; Novo Nordisk, their commitment to my program and the commitment to motorsports to reach their audience over the last five years is fantastic. They have done a lot of activation. We have reached so many people in the diabetes community, the whole race from within campaign that I am a part of and they are the driving factor behind is so much fun to be along with; and the people I get to meet is fantastic.
So to be able to come out today and get a race win is superb. It's so fulfilling for me and for a lot of people. I think that when you're in the meetings with Chip and your first year, he's telling you to go out and just finish the races and learn as much as possible. And you get a lot of flak for not getting the results that you might expect or want to, but you're following the boss's orders.
Now to be able to repay that in my third year; I said at the beginning of the year that the last couple of years, we got the experience, we built the foundation, and as a team, we are ready to win, now we just need to do it.
So to be able to get that win today and this weekend was definite validation for Chip, for the Novo Nordisk Group, my engineer, Brad, and all of the crew.
Q. When Brad made the call, you knew immediately what was up, y'all had talked about it before?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: Yeah, we were pretty clear in the race meeting, and I was maybe getting a little frustrated because I knew that if it came down to fuel mileage, I don't know that there's anyone better in the business than Mr.Dixon at saving fuel and running fast laps, and I don't think I could have hit the fuel numbers he was hitting and do the lap times he was doing.
So when they said, all right, we are going to a three‑stop, get us while you can, I immediately came back on the switches and from running lean to sort of drop the hammer, get right up behind Scott, our window open, and they pitted. I knew when they came out, came out in clean air, I had to run qualifying laps that whole stint. They were giving me lap time targets and I was doing everything I can to be better than that, because I knew the car was that good.
They could start to see that I think during the middle of that second stint, but the car was just so good, they were giving me a lap time number, and I just had to keep it clean. I had a couple of moments I tried to throw it away, a couple of mistakes, but some of that was in traffic, some of that was just running on the ragged edge to get the gaps I needed to.
Q. Just to be clear, the decision to go to three stops was made after the race started?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: Yeah, we sort of talked about it, we thought we were probably going to go that way depending on how the other guys‑‑ what the other guys looked like.
We actually expected the Top‑5 or six to run like rabbits, run out hard, and then if they got a yellow, back into a two‑stop strategy. But then when it looked like everyone was trying to make the mileage for a two‑stop race, we thought, all right, we've got the pace here. And on the stand I could run with Dixon pretty decently, getting decent mileage, but not good enough.
So that I that we knew if we could get clean air‑‑ and I think that's kind of what they were waiting for on the stand. We were not committed to it, until he saw what the guys up front were doing and where that first stop would put us. If it put us in clean air, he was going to commit to it and we were going to get after it.
Q. How often in your career have you felt like the backup plan, and then what was it like to be‑‑ Dario said, basically wished we decided earlier to do what you guys did. Was it nice to sort of be in the other position this time?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: Well, we put ourselves in that position to be the‑‑ to hedge the bets because of where we are in the championship. We are 11th, or were 11th coming into today. Scott is fighting for the championship and Dario is well in the Top‑10.
So that's pretty clear what our opportunity is. But we knew that with the speed that we had in the car, if we could run flat out ‑‑ and this place, the way race control is running the races, we had the opportunity to go green all day. And you weren't going to get the yellows to make a two‑stop work.
So I think we kind of played it right and made the call when we needed to make the call for the win, but we had it strongly in our mind that we were going to run‑three‑stop race and it only just solidified that when the guys up front were running slower and slower and slower, and we could go out and make hay when we needed to.
Q. One of my enduring memories of this weekend will be yesterday after your crash in practice going by the garage and seeing the crews, I don't know, it may have been all three crews, working on the car. Was it at all close to not be ready yesterday for qualifying?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: I don't know that we would have gotten it done without the help from the 9 and 10 crews. It was‑‑ you want to talk about a team effort, and that's the epitome of it. There was literally not enough space for me to stand in the garage and watch the progress.
After I got run over three or four times, I was just like, I've got to get out of the way, because there were so many guys. And it was like watching a symphony. The guy is reaching for a tool and someone putting it in their hand. It was an incredible display of team work.
That's bred from the hours in the shop, working back and forth, the time, sharing data, sharing parts. We really are one team and I don't know that people really understood that until yesterday, because I didn't know‑‑ we didn't finish setup‑‑ we didn't even use our own setup pads.
We rolled on to the 10 car pad because our pad was up against the wall in a stirrup and the crashed car was in the way. So we didn't even have enough time to set up the pad and do a proper set up. We went to the 10 car and got the numbers close and rolled out for qualifying.
So it was close, for sure, and it wouldn't have been in the ballpark without the help from the 9 and 10 through.
Q. Earlier you mentioned you made push‑to‑pass going in, was that the last one, which one was it? And panel node mentioned he kind of wished he had more, just in general, not just for today's race. Can you address both?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: Well, I think we are racing drivers‑‑ I'll address the second one first. We are racing drivers; we always want more horsepower and to get the boost advantage from the overtake button is always more fun.
Having said that, it was my last overtake, and the team‑‑ I was burning through them trying to get a gap so that I didn't have to go by him when he came into pit lane for his last stop. It didn't work out. I got caught up in traffic. When I went through turn one, actually ran off‑‑ while he came through pit lane, I went in the dirt a little bit, but kept it booted, got on the overtake. And the overtake actually timed out about halfway down the back straight but I had the momentum out of the corner and hot tires to be able to draft up and go by him into the corner.
So once I was committed to the inside, I had the move. I made the joke earlier that it was 50 percent momentum and 75 percent commitment, you know, into that corner. It's for the race win; you're always going to take a bigger risk and go for it a little harder for the win.
Q. Can you talk about the journey to get here? Did you get here sooner than you expected or did it take you longer than you expected? And also, when they announced the expansion of Ganassi to four cars, it was kind of like, and the other team has Graham Rahal, and. Talk about overcoming a lot.
CHARLIE KIMBALL: I think as far as timing, I talked about the growth of not just the team, but also the growth of me as a driver, and I think it's right on the time frame that Chip laid out for us; that we had a clear understanding going into the first year that it was a sort of figure it out, see if the program was going to work.
And with the expansion program, we knew that the second year, this year, was going to be the year to start winning and start putting the results on the board and start getting inside the Top‑10 in points.
To be able to validate those sort of trajectories has been really nice. I think if we get the win or we don't today, I think this year has proven that. Getting a win quiets a lot of voices, for sure, especially voices within myself as a driver. Because as a driver, you'd like to win in your first race, right. That's, again, I don't think any of the drivers up and down pit lane are here to finish second.
So to be able to come out and validate it to ourselves is a good thing and I think builds momentum for not just the rest of the season, but, you know, the next few years.
Q. This is a day of also remembering what happened in 2006, and just talk about the journey, that journey, because really it could have changed; you could have given up. Can you talk about that?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: Getting diagnosed actually in 2007, I remember that day being pretty dark. And today is pretty bright.
So it's nice to be able to come back from that, rebuild, and find a whole incredible community to be a part of. The diabetes community is I think one of the strongest out there and the best in the world. And to have Novo Nordisk's support to reach out to that community and prove those message points; that you can still live your dream with diabetes, and the modern insulins, the delivery devices like the NovoLog FlexPen are key to that.
So now, that evolution, it seems like a long time ago, but it's only been five and a half years. In the broad scope of things, five years isn't that long.
So to be now to come five years later and get a race win in what I think is the most competitive open‑wheel series for newer in the Americas and probably in the world at the minute is pretty fantastic. Especially at a racetrack that I had decent success in Indy Lights, and a fair bit of success in the F2000 championship back in 2003.
So it's a racetrack that I love, and to be able to come back and come back from that dark day and have so much success and be able to give back to that community like this is very fulfilling and very satisfying.
Q. Charlie Kimball or Charlie Murphy?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: I keep trying to convince Dario that's not a thing, but, you know, now that he's renting a place in Indianapolis, I feel it might be a thing. Apparently I've committed to buying him pizza later this week, so we are going to get together for pizza at some point. It's nice to have that relationship with my teammates, Scott and Dario, to have those jokes and to have that relationship is very cool.
Q. In the race, explain, are you getting an insulin pump every now and then? Can you explain how that works in a nutshell? Do you know when you're getting it, like a push‑to‑pass type thing?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: Well, it comes down to preparation I do before the race, using the Novo Nordisk FlexPen to take my insulin. I don't wear an insulin pump for multiple reasons: A, the FlexPens work for me and my doctor is really happy with my care. And she always makes sure I get that answer in first, because to her that's the most thing is she's happy with how I'm doing it.
The other thing is there's a lot of challenges to having an insulin pump in a car: The temperature of the insulin under a fire suit; the G‑loads‑‑ I don't know if pump companies test their pumps at 3 or 4 Gs around the corner, which here, turn one, turn four, it is pretty heavily loaded; so I might be getting insulin when I don't need it.
So anyways, it comes down it the preparation I do using the FlexPen. And the in car, I wear a continuous monitor so I can keep track of my blood glucose. Today, it was level, stable, exactly where I wanted it, right in the range I like to be, and I checked it, just about as often as I checked fuel mileage when we were running flat out, so every five, six, ten, 15 laps, at the end, I knew it was on target and so all I had to do was keep an eye on it, but there were no surprises there.
Q. Did you get an injection after the race‑‑
CHARLIE KIMBALL: No, I haven't, because I haven't eaten yet. I'm getting a little hungry, so if we can hurry this up‑‑ all joking aside, when‑‑ at the moment, I'm still stable.
So if the race went on for another hour, I would still be good, because the Indy 500 is three, three and a half hours, and last year was a lot hotter than it was here today.
And as Dario pointed out on the podium, today was pretty physical. Even as cool as it was, when you're running flat out, doing 66, 67 laps around here, it's pretty tough. I feel good, and it wasn't an issue and hopefully I'll get a good dinner at some point and at that point bolus using my FlexPen.
Q. You've had a couple second‑police finishes this year, over the past few years you've been getting better and better, but did you expect to win this weekend? Obviously you want to win every weekends, but did you think coming into the weekend, I've got this in the bag, or did you think a win was still maybe a few races off?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: Well, I think at the moment, in the IZOD IndyCar Series, if you come into a race weekend thinking, I've got a race in the bag, you're fooling yourself. It's way too competitive to be thinking that anyone has it locked up at any race weekend at any point.
Having said that, we definitely looked at a few races that we believed we could have really strong showings. Barber, Long Beach, Indianapolis, Pocono, Toronto, here, and some of the races later this year. But we sort of really focused, knowing that we are going to get a test day, and the car was quick last year and the teams's cars are traditionally quick here. We knew if we could put a good, solid, clean weekend together, then we had a shot at the win.
And you know, I think the thing is, once you're consistently running inside the Top‑10, then you'll get a Top‑5. When you're consistently running close to the Top‑5, you'll get podiums. When you're podium'ing every now and again, then you're going to pick up a win. And we have sort of taken that next step, not just me as a driver, but us as a team. I think we came into this weekend ready to win, and when the situation arose, we took advantage of that.
THE MODERATOR: Charlie, thank you so much for your time today. Congratulations on the first win.
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