The Frontstretch: IndyCar Recap: Mid-Ohio by Matt Stallknecht -- Monday August 5, 2013

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IndyCar Recap: Mid-Ohio

Matt Stallknecht · Monday August 5, 2013

 

In A Nutshell: Charlie Kimball’s team put him on a risky off-sequence strategy early in the going, and it paid off in spades. Kimball drove his tail off all race long, and was so fast that he forced other teams to bail on their strategy in an attempt to keep up with the #83 team. Kimball had to withstand a short charge from Simon Pagenaud in the race’s closing laps, but ultimately Kimball prevailed and delivered his first ever IndyCar Series win.

Key Moment: Simon Pagenaud was on a comparable pit stop strategy to Kimball, and actually got himself out in front of Kimball after his last pit stop on Lap 73. Kimball was not fazed, however, and stayed on Pagenaud’s gearbox from the pit exit all the way to the backstretch before executing a beautiful pass in the next turn, a move that ended up winning the race for the 28 year old American driver.

Highlight Reel:

- During practice for the race, Charlie Kimball crashed hard, so hard that at first glance it looked as if he could have been injured. His team was forced to go to a backup car, but in the end the wreck proved to be serendipitous. As it would turn out, Kimball would go on to win, and his practice accident was the only major crash of the weekend.

- EJ Viso nearly ruined Kimball’s race in the closing laps. Viso refused to yield to then-leader Kimball when Kimball attempted to lap him, and in the process Kimball lost valuable time to Simon Pagenaud which, in turn, set the finish up to be closer than it perhaps should have been.

- Speaking of crashes and such, there was none such wreckage in Sunday’s event. The only real “incident” of the race occurred midway through the race when Tony Kanaan went off track after his car lost power.

- Ryan Hunter-Reay had some trouble on pit road throughout the race, as he stopped too wide into his pit box on his last two stops. The error on his last stop in particular was nearly disastrous, as the team had to struggle to get fuel in the car. Luckily, Hunter-Reay was able to rebound for a decent 5th place finish.

- Championship contenders Helio Castroneves, Marco Andretti, and Scott Dixon were locked in a fabulous three way battle for 6th place for the last third of the race, and there were some moments when Andretti and Dixon nearly wrecked each other battling hard for position. Castroneves ended up prevailing in the end, but with every position being so important for the championship, look for more battles this one to happen frequently in the coming weeks.

Notable Driver: When Charlie Kimball stepped into the IZOD IndyCar Series as a rookie back in 2011, few ever imagined that he would grow to become an INDYCAR winner. Many derided Kimball, suggesting he only had ride in the series because of his status as the “only licensed diabetic INDYCAR driver”, and all of the sponsorship dollars that came along with it. But with every race, Kimball has slowly improved, and now in 2013, Kimball is a full-fledged contender ready to spit in the face of his former doubters. Kimball has showed some incredible pace and talent for the past year now, and it finally paid off on Sunday. Make no mistake, Mid-Ohio 2013 will not be Charlie Kimball’s last INDYCAR victory.

*Key Storylines: * – Helio Castroneves, courtesy of finishing 6th (one spot ahead of Scott Dixon), was able to expand his points lead over the New Zealand-born driver to 31 markers. Again, every position counts in the championship, so a solid 6th place finish has to be considered a win for the #3 team on a weekend in which they lacked some speed. – Marco Andretti’s goose is pretty much cooked as far as the championship goes at this point. He ran respectably for most of the race, but he needed a top 3 at the very least to stay alive in the title hunt. He finished 6th, and now sits 4th with a distant 72 points disadvantage to Castroneves in the championship. – Rookies James Davison and Luca Filippi both performed admirably in their debut IndyCar races, finishing 15th and 16th respectably on a day of little attrition. With silly season beginning to heat up, it will be interesting to see if any teams are willing to take a chance on one of these two drivers for 2014.

Quotes and Tweets:

“It’s nice when the team gives you such a great car. All I needed to do was to hit the lap times they needed me to. For a while, they were saying 67.5s (seconds per lap) and I threw down a couple 67.1s. They said, ‘OK, see if you can do a 66.’ We just kept pushing the limit.” – Charlie Kimball on his formula for success.
“If you would have told me we would have finished in the top 10, I would have said you were crazy.“– Helio Castroneves on his hard-fought 6th place finish
“So glad the guys NOT saving fuel won the race today, but it made it interesting with all the different strategies going on. IndyCar” – Ryan Briscoe (Ryan_Briscoe), NBC Sports’ newest one-time INDYCAR analyst
“Congrats to racewithinsulin for his first indycar win today at mid Ohio!!!! Awesome!!!!” – NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya (jpmontoya) on his INDYCAR teammates win

What’s Next: Another three week break is in order for the IZOD IndyCar Series. The next stop for the series is the picturesque Sonoma Raceway in California for the GoPro Honda Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma. The race will be carried live on both the NBC Sports Network and Sirus/XM Channel 211 at 4 pm on Sunday August 25th.

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DeniseW
08/05/2013 07:36 AM
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Congrats to Charlie, a well-deserved victory. That was a great pass on Simon for the lead. Also, cheers to HCN for hanging tough & even expanding his point lead. All the experts had Dixon surging ahead of him this weekend, but they forgot to tell Helio!