IZOD IndyCar Series: Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama
Topics: Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama
April 7, 2013
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with today's post race press conference. We are pleased to be joined by Charlie Kimball of Chip Ganassi Racing who finished fourth.
Charlie, it seems like this weekend everything was clicking together. Talk about today's race.
CHARLIE KIMBALL: Yeah, I think a lot of the progress we made in the off-season started to show at St. Pete. But as a team, there were other elements in play, so we struggled a little more.
We were really close to making the top 12 at St. Pete. Here when we did. I had that extra practice on alternate tires, so in Q2 I was able to maximize and end up third quickest and making it into the Fast Six for the first time.
We knew the car had a lot of speed on blacks and used blacks. I'm not sure where our podium went. We had the speed in the car to be on the podium, it was just a question of what tires. We might have been a little greedy using reds in warmup this morning to do a balance check.
It's hard to maximize your first time in the Fast Six. Having scrubbed reds, it's hard to get that maximized on the first time.
All in all, it's been a great race. I'll have to talk to Novo Nordisk to let me run that scheme all year. To have Scott represent it with the blue rims, finish on the podium, Jamie McMurray finished top 10, and the GRAND-AM boys finished top five yesterday. Great day for diabetes awareness and the whole Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing crew.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions for Charlie.
Q. Looked a little hectic in turn one on the start. Take us through what you saw.
CHARLIE KIMBALL: It was pretty dirty on the inside. With the wind blowing, a lot of that yellow pollen and dust had blown onto the track. Visibility was reasonably hard.
Coming out of the last corner, you get a bit of a downhill run. I was getting ready to lift out, it went green. See how this comes out. When I got to Vautier, he turned right to the apex and I had to jump on the binders really hard. I think that set off a chain reaction behind me.
I gathered it up, and going into two all I saw was the red and blue 25 car of Marco coming around the outside. With Marco starting on blacks, we were on new reds, I had to settle in after the yellow and wait for him to struggle to put the power down to get him into five. From there, it was getting a good, clean run, trying to push, pressure Vautier into a mistake.
He didn't make anything big enough for me to go by him. I burned a couple overtakes earlier than I wanted behind him. So then I thought I would run consistent laps.
Dixon drove up to the back of me at pit. The initial start was busy. I think we can work to make them a little cleaner.
Obviously Long Beach next, looking forward. It's really challenging to get a nice, clean start with the hairpin there. But we can work with race control as drivers and make it look a little better.
Q. Can you talk about how important this strong weekend is at the beginning of the season giving you momentum.
CHARLIE KIMBALL: Well, I think Chip said it best when he said it's my third season, it's time to start winning. That's where we are. Our expectation is to be consistently in the top five, qualify consistently in the top 10, and come away from the season with a podium and a race win or two.
We led laps at Indy last year. We'd like to lead the last lap this year. Going forward, I think there's some strong races for us. Hopefully I don't have the same health issue that I had last year when I broke my hand.
This weekend's a great place to start it, though. Especially going home to Long Beach next. We had a good result in Brazil last year, then into the month of May. Once that momentum is going, fitness-wise I feel really good, and ready for doubleheaders when we get to Detroit.
Q. A very physically demanding, technical circuit, and no yellows. Talk about going for quite a long ways with no rest.
CHARLIE KIMBALL: Actually in the race strategy meeting, the over/under was that it would go green all day was high. There aren't many opportunities for yellow here. Everyone stops pushing to that edge quite as hard and are more consistent with the car. We thought it might go green the whole time. So mentally we were ready for physical exertion.
But physically I feel pretty good. My neck's going to be a little sore tomorrow, but it's the highest lateral Gs we'll see at any racetrack this year. And it only being the second race after the full season of racing, your neck builds up some resistance and strength that you can't quite get in the gym.
Q. The start was really dicey, hectic and wild. You made up some ground there as well. What did you see? Was it every man for himself?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: Yeah, it was pretty tough. Coming off the last corner, it was downhill. I had momentum building as the green flag came out. I was getting ready to check up if it hadn't gone green. It went green sooner than I expected, so I was able to carry that momentum through.
It was pretty busy. The 55 car drove me right to the apex. I had to jump on the brakes pretty hard and I think that caused a chain reaction. There was a fair bit of dust down the inside. I don't know if it was the pollen or the dirt from the prerace stuff. It was all right. Then Marco came steaming up the outside into two, and it was pretty busy there.
Overall I think we can work with race control to make them look better and be a little cleaner.
THE MODERATOR: Charlie, thank you for joining us. Congratulations on a great race.
CHARLIE KIMBALL: Thank you.
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