You can’t fault Charlie Kimball for being both excited and confident, as he heads into this week’s big IndyCar race in Sonoma. Just one short week ago, he was sitting in victory lane at Mid-Ohio in his orange and blue No. 83, Novo-Nordisk, Chip Ganassi Honda. It was his first ever win on the IndyCar series, but most of the drivers and car owners were not surprised.
Kimball, who is diabetic, is a real fighter and an intense competitor; when he won last week, it was clear to everyone at Mid-Ohio and everyone who follows IndyCar, that this was just the beginning of his winning. Talking to Kimball this week, as he was out to Northern California where he is running in the Grand Prix of Sonoma, I could sense a quiet confidence in his voice and an eagerness to jump in his car as fast as possible.
JW: You got that first win. How did it feel?
Kimball: “Outstanding. I mean, all season we have come so very close to winning many times, only to have things slip away. But not last week. We were dialed in and we brought home that win, and it was at one of racing’s most iconic race courses in the country — that was just icing on the cake.”
JW: So Sonoma is a like Mid – Ohio in some ways.
Kimball: “Yes, I am from California, and to come here to the Napa Valley and to race on this road course is such a great honor. There are things that are similar, like hills. We have them at both tracks, and there are some very challenging turns where drivers can pass, but you really have to be careful.”
JW: What is the most important part about racing on a course like Sonoma?
Kimball: “It actually starts with qualifying. For you to have a good chance of winning, you must be in say the top eight or so places. Road racing does not allow for a great deal of working your way up through the field. I am not saying that if you start, say in 12th or 15th place, that you have no chance. However, I would say that you have to have way too many things go right for you to win that it would be very tough. So, we will be shooting for a good spot in the top five or so to give us another chance to win, or at least make the podium.”
JW: I understand that you are a big baseball fan.
Kimball: Yes, I love the Los Angeles Dodgers and have been following them since I was a little kid. I am so pleased that they are winning, and try to catch as many games as I can on TV. They did have me throw out the first pitch at a game one night at Dodgers Stadium, and until my win at Mid-Ohio last week that was the coolest thing that happened to me in sports.”
This week’s IndyCar race at Grand Prix of Sonoma, Sunday -TV: 4:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network
Rant Sports’ James Williams is a seven time Emmy Award winning producer, director and writer. You can follow him on twitter @Wordmandc.