Charlie Kimball driver of the No.83 Novo Nordisk Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing heads to the Mid Ohio sports car course for the next round of the Verizon IndyCar Series off the back of an 11th place finish at the Honda Indy Toronto.
Paddock Eye spoke with Kimball about a number of topics:
How did you feel the Honda Indy Toronto went for the No.83 crew?
I think it was a good weekend. I put us in a hole by not qualifying where the car was capable of on Saturday; I didn’t maximize that as much as I could have and for that I owe an apology to my guys but on Sunday we still had a battling day and one of the things about racing around the streets of Toronto is it’s not just a street race it’s a bit of a street fight, and having gotten turned around, had contact and someone ran into me and spun me around and got driven into the side of on lap 1 and nearly going a lap down and then coming back and racing inside the top ten and maybe even knocking on the door of the top five and then getting sucker punched with that yellow was unfortunate. You know, I feel really badly for the 9 guys and Scott, because he dominated and to have that yellow fall on absolutely the wrong lap was really tough and I know they’re feeling it and for me, the fact we had driven so far through the field and to come away with an eleventh wasn’t really representative of what we were capable of and for that, that’s the hard part when you leave a race like that.
Did you have any concerns about the turn 5 curbing?
I could see where it was starting to come up in terms of the debris and for me it is part of the race track we use pretty aggressively at least our cars were set up to handle the thing very aggressively and so it’s part of the race track, it’s part of a temporary street circuit. The track changes and evolves not just with the rubber we put down but how the curb’s get built each year, how the lines get built, how the walls get built, it’s part of street racing is that challenge and I think the series did a great job managing it and when it got to a point when the debris was in the way and they needed to deal with other things around the race track, they went yellow it didn’t affect anybody’s race at that point and they were able to fix the problem.
Other than Indianapolis, what is your favourite circuit on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule and why?
For me, it’s hard to talk about race tracks without talking about the event involved. I grew up going to the Long Beach Grand Prix and being able to be on the other side of the catch fencing is fantastic. I love the Mid-Ohio sports car course and I think part of that is its setting part of that is being in the park, part of that is the fact I got my first INDYCAR win there and part of it is everybody camping and the buzz in the air on race day and the fact that it’s a great track. I’m excited about going to Watkins Glen. I love being in the race car, so it’s hard for me to narrow it down to just one race track but if I had to say, I think the Long Beach Grand Prix is a very close second to Indianapolis in my book but from there Mid-Ohio, Watkins Glen, even the event at Toronto I love the city, I love going up there and spending the weekend enjoying what the city of Toronto has to offer.
Having won in Mid-Ohio in the past, how confident are you about achieving a similar result this season?
I think it helps with the confidence. There’s always that voice in the back of your head when you say I can win this weekend and there’s a voice that sometimes says well, you haven’t done it yet this will be the first time. Well going back to Mid-Ohio that voice isn’t there it’s going yeah you can because you’ve done it. For me, the great thing about 2013 was how we won it. We didn’t win it by saving fuel, we didn’t win it by catching a lucky yellow, we won it by driving the wheels off the thing and to commit to a three stop strategy the guys were great in pit-lane, we had a fast car. I had a clear track and was able to make up the time needed for that third stop and so we won a race by going fast and for me that was a great way to get my first INDYCAR win.
If you could race an IndyCar on any circuit outside of the US, what circuit would you choose and why?
I think Spa would be so much fun, it’s a great race track. I loved racing there was I was racing in Europe and being able to just blast through Eau Rouge and up the hill and there are so many iconic corners in the Arden Forest there it’s so cool.
Your Dad was involved in Formula One as an engineer, did you ever consider racing in the sport or was your heart always set on a career in IndyCar?
Well I spent a lot of years racing in Europe and got a lot of experience in the junior Formula racing over in Europe so there was an eye to Formula One but, at the moment being able to give back more to the diabetes community here in North America through Novo Nordisk and Race With Insulin programme it’s not an insignificant factor in my decision of where to race. I love racing here in the US, I love being an American supported by the American fans here in INDYCAR and I have a lot of unfinished business here in IndyCar racing. The Indy 500 is the crown jewel of motorsports around the world and it’s definitely iconic and I think the racing in Formula One is not as good as the show the Verizon IndyCar Series put on. They’ve got a lot of technology like the hybrid power units and there’s a lot of different control systems going on but at the same time being a constructors championship if you’re in the right car then it’s almost an unfair advantage where I think in IndyCar rather than Formula One where there maybe three of four cars and drivers that can win each race in IndyCar there’s probably ten or fifteen car/driver combinations that can win each race.
Being a diabetic in racing can create a certain set of challenges, is there a specific way you go about preparing for a weekend with that in mind, of do you just say I have to get in the car, I have a job to do?
Well it takes a lot of preparation, my diabetes management is, let’s put it this way, and I work really hard to make it look like I don’t work at all. I think Chip gave me one of the best compliments I have ever had in my career earlier this year. He said:
If Charlie didn’t tell me he had diabetes I don’t think I would notice it, in how he drives and how he prepares’ (Chip Ganassi speaking about Charlie Kimball).
I do work really hard with my management so when I climb in the car all I have to think about is racing. The moment I get up in the morning on a race weekend I am thinking about my blood sugar, I’m managing my nutrition, managing my insulin dosage, managing my hydration all the way through and I do wear a continuous glucose monitor that’s plugged into the cars data system that not only can I see my blood sugar but the engineers on the timing stand can see my blood sugar aswell. For me, it’s broader than just racing aswell, hopefully I can inspire those kids with diabetes and their families to chase their dreams, if that’s driving a race car or if that’s playing in NFL, playing Major League Baseball, playing in the NHL like Max Domi. I met Max when he came out to the race at Phoenix earlier this year and as a Type 1, you know a second generation hockey player but also one of the studs on the Cayote’s roster to be able share our offices was really cool and hopefully that inspiration helps the next generation and they if Charlie can race in IndyCar’s then I can play little league or I can do this I can that.
To date what has been the highlight of your Verizon IndyCar Series career?
I think winning at Mid-Ohio has to be at the top of the list as far as highlights of my career result wise. To me it is what we are there to do, we’re not there to finish second, we are there to go out and win races, so to get the job done in 2013 was special but at the same time I think driver introductions at my first Indy 500 being the 100th anniversary of the first race was fantastic, being a part of Chip Ganassi Racing, a podium sweep at Pocono in 2013 where we finished 1,2 and 3 alongside Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti, that’s pretty good company. So those are some of my fondest memories in my career so far.
How do you unwind after a race?
When I get home after races, if I get the chance I like to go out on my boat, I grew up in California and the place I always love to go to kind of relax and unwind was out on the ocean go surfing and cool off. For me, water is big part of that and I have an access wave research boat and whenever I can I go out on the water because it’s my chance to unplug and so much of what I do at the race track is such high speed that when I have the chance to go out on the water and slow down with some friends I definitely take advantage of it.
Who is your best friend on the IndyCar circuit?
I would definitely have said my crew are more than friends they’re family, from my crew chief, my engineer, all the way down. As far as drivers, I think I would say James and I are pretty good friends, he married my wife and I. It was hilarious, its James so nothing was particularly serious and it’s so funny because I see him before a race and he’s relaxed and his dancing around and jovial, before the wedding ceremony, I have never seen him more stressed. Other than James, definitely Scott, Tony and Max, being team mate’s we’ve got a great one team mentality at Chip Ganassi Racing and those three guys I really enjoy spending time with them at the race track and away from the race track. I train at the gym with both Hinch and Dixon so we definitely spend a good amount of time together being based here in Indy most of the year.
What is it like to be racing with the likes of TK and Scott having them on your team and having the opportunity to bounce ideas in relation to the car off one another? Obviously Scott and TK are very successful and Max is coming up the ranks now as well so do you use that as motivation? Is it something you look forward to each race working alongside these guys?
It is a great chance for me to learn and to be able to try and figure out how Scott and Tony do what they do. It’s a little frustrating at times, I will admit because they have been around for so long and they are so good at it that sometimes it’s frustrating that I’m not able to do exactly what they’re doing right away but I also know what they’re doing and capable with their help and the teams help in figuring out how to get it done as well so it’s been a huge asset and shortened by learning curve for sure.