Kimball tastes victory at Honda Indy 200

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Lexington, Ohio -- Charlie Kimball finally got to Victory Lane, and it was a long time coming, almost a career ago.
That last win came in Europe's Formula Three Euroseries in 2006, and it came just a few months before he was diagnosed with diabetes.
The days after being diagnosed were dark, he said Sunday after winning the Honda Indy 200, his first Izod IndyCar Series race.
Kimball was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2007, and he was temporarily forced to abandon his racing activities midseason. He returned to the sport the next year.
Since then, Kimball, now 28, has been a leading spokesman for Racing with Insulin, showing he is able to compete in a demanding sport despite his medical condition.
This is Kimball's third season with Chip Ganassi's team, and it has been a step-by-step climb to the highest spot on the podium.
The first year in 2011, Kimball was asked to finish races without concern for how he finished. The next year he was asked to be more competitive, grab some top-10 finishes and keep improving.
He did both, then took the next step this step. He finished second in the April race at Barber Motorsports Park and has consistently been more competitive in 2013.
"It's finally all come together," Kimball said.
"How about that?" Ganassi shouted in Victory Lane at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. "We all knew he had the talent, it was just a matter of someday having a good day without something going wrong."
Ganassi was reminded that he told Kimball at the start of the season that had to take the next step in the maturation process, becoming stronger and more fit as he continued to learn his craft from championship- and Indianapolis 500-winning teammates Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti.
Kimball has.
"Yes, he has," Ganassi said. "The kid has stepped up."
Sunday's win made him the ninth IndyCar Series winner this year. He even had a memorable pass.
On Lap 73 of 90, Kimball dropped the right-side tires of his Ganassi Racing car into the dirt trying to pass Simon Pagenaud, who was coming out of his final pit stop with the lead. Kimball recovered three corners to pass Pagenaud under braking. Then he did the rest.
The final margin of victory was 5.5 seconds. Franchitti finished third.
Pagenaud complained that EJ Viso was in the middle of the track as he fought to keep Kimball back.
"I didn't think he was going to make it," Pagenaud said of Kimball. "I thought I was going to keep it."
Franchitti said Kimball has been remarkably quick at several tracks this season, especially here and at Barber Motorsports Park in April.
"And he really executed the strategy today," the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said.
Franchitti said he was impressed that after Kimball went off track, slid through the gravel pit and hit a tire barrier in Saturday morning's session, he got back on the throttle and qualified fifth.
"Got straight back on it as if he never had one," Franchitti said.
Kimball's last win was in Europe's Formula Three Euroseries in 2006.
Sunday's race was lengthened by five laps to keep teams from going from start to finish on just two stops, making it a fuel-conservation affair.
Most of the field went with a three-stop pit strategy. The fastest few qualifiers, including pole sitter Ryan Hunter-Reay, tried to make it a three-stop run. That didn't work as the lap times dropped as the tires wore out.
The top-finishing driver on such a strategy was Will Power, who finished fourth.
This has been a memorable year Kimball. He was part of Chip Ganassi's winning sports car team in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, with Juan Pablo Montoya, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas as teammates.
Kimball was born in Chertsey, England, while his father, Gordon, was working in Formula One as an engineer. Gordon now accompanies his son to IndyCar races, although he wasn't at the track Sunday.
Gordon was at home in California, helping with the harvesting of avocados, which the family grows on its ranch. Meanwhile, his son was in Victory Lane.

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