Injury To Interrupt Charlie Kimball’s Season Of Growth

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, August 3 2012

Charlie Kimball will miss this weekend's race at Mid-Ohio because of an injured hand. (INDYCAR/LAT USA)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

A broken bone in his right hand will prevent IZOD IndyCar Series regular Charlie Kimball from participating in this weekend’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Kimball, driver of the No. 83 NovoLog Flex Pen Dallara/Honda, fractured the fifth metacarpal in his right hand while testing at Mid-Ohio on July 26. Subsequent evaluation in Indianapolis revealed the second-year series driver would not be ready to return for Sunday’s 85-lap race on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course in Lexington, Ohio.

Meanwhile, Giorgio Pantano will fill in for the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing driver this weekend. Pantano, a 33-year-old Italian, competed in three late-season road/street races for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing in 2011 with a best finish of 16th at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan while substituting for the injured Justin Wilson. Pantano made his first two IndyCar Series starts with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2005 at Sonoma, Calif., and Watkins Glen, N.Y., (started second, finished fourth).

Kimball has recorded five top-10 finishes in 11 races this season, highlighted by a career-best second on the Streets of Toronto. His best career start is seventh at Twin Ring Motegi last September. The former Firestone Indy Lights competitor has seven top-10s in 28 races over two seasons.

Teammate Graham Rahal said Kimball’s rise through the ranks this season has been impressive.

“Yeah, Charlie has done a fantastic job, really working to develop his speed,” said Rahal, driver of the No. 38 Service Central Dallara/Honda. “Of course, I get to see it all first-hand in the areas where he really lacked when he came in, the areas that he’s really gained on now. I think the biggest thing is he’s showing his confidence and aggressiveness in the car. That’s the way you got to be.

“I think last year everybody would have looked at Charlie as an easier guy to get by, whatever it may be; on the restarts he was a little tentative. He’s not that way anymore. I think that’s a very good sign for him. I think you’re going to see him here in the series for a long time and he’s only going to get better. He’s done a really, really good job.

“Of course, Toronto being the peak of it all, all weekend he was on his game. They missed it a little bit in qualifying but other than that, in practice and in the race they were awfully good. Hats off to he and Brad (Goldberg), his engineer, and the whole group. They’ve done a good job.”

Kimball, 27, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2007. As the first licensed driver with diabetes to compete in the IndyCar Series, the California resident has emerged as a corporate spokesman and positive influence for those afflicted by the condition.

Mike Hull, Ganassi’s managing director, said the call to have Kimball sit out for Mid-Ohio was disappointing.

“Since INDYCAR has the best medical resource in motorsports, his recovery will be swift,” Hull said. “His performance over the past few weeks has been impressive with increased momentum, so our expectation is that he will be back at full-strength quickly.

“We’re fortunate to have Giorgio Pantano available as the No. 83 car driver at Mid-Ohio. His impressive global resume fits well with the natural-terrain road-track of Mid-Ohio. To have a quality driver, who has won the GP2 Championship against the best and blends into the team concept, is hard to find on short notice.”

Kimball started 10th and finished 11th in his first IndyCar Series race at Mid-Ohio, where a Chip Ganassi Racing driver has won four-of-five events  – Scott Dixon, three times; Dario Franchitti, once.

“I’m very disappointed to miss out on the Mid-Ohio race weekend,” Kimball said. “We had such a good race there last year and I was really looking forward to another shot at the podium. However, I trust the medical professionals at INDYCAR, and we’re making sure I’m back to 100 percent for Sonoma (Aug. 24-26). We’re lucky to have Giorgio in the seat of the No. 83 car while I’m healing up, and I’ll be there this weekend to help him and the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team.”

Pantano said he was eager to record his first laps in the series’ new Dallara DW12 chassis. “You never want to have something happen to another driver and I wish Charlie a quick recovery,” Pantano said. “Nonetheless, the opportunity is here and I am looking forward to working with the team again and making the best of it.”

INDYCAR, sanctioning body of the IZOD IndyCar Series, will introduce a five-second delay to the overtake assist/push-to-pass for Sunday’s 85-lap race. A total of 100 seconds will be afforded drivers, with a maximum of 20 seconds per activation. There’s no recharge time between activations.

“After that five seconds, when the driver gets to full-throttle or already is at full-throttle, the overtake will come on. That’s to stop from using it as a push-to-defend,” said Trevor Knowles, INDYCAR’s director of engine development. “They’ll have to plan ahead.”

An example this weekend will be the Keyhole at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course _ a long straight leading into a looping right-hand turn to another long straight. It’s 0.44-of-a-mile from the Turn 2 braking zone, down the straight and into the entrance of Turn 3.

“You can push the button before you get to the braking zone and when you get on the throttle it will be on overtake,” Knowles said. “If you’re the car in front trying to defend, the TV won’t show when the competitor has pushed it. It will only show when the overtake is active. If he responds, he has five seconds before his overtake cuts in.”

The overtake assist feature, introduced to the series in 2009, allows a driver to add turbocharger boost and additional RPMs with the press of a button on the steering wheel. When the system is engaged, the turbocharger boost increases to 161 kPa with an additional 200 RPMs on the 2.2-liter V-6 engines supplied by Chevrolet, Honda and Lotus.

The system has been utilized at Toronto and Edmonton and will be included at the upcoming road/street-course events at Sonoma and Baltimore. Knowles said INDYCAR will consider adding an overtake lockout/recharge period. “But we didn’t want to introduce too many things at one time,” Knowles said.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, August 3 2012
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