Kimball posts strong fourth-place finish

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Charlie Kimball’s fourth-place finish on Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park would appear to be a definite sign of progress for the third-year IndyCar racer. The American finished 12th in the season-opener at St. Petersburg, but this weekend, he managed to convert his first-ever berth in the Firestone Fast Six into his second career Top 5 result.

Kimball led briefly for three laps in the race’s middle segment, but his best moment of the day arguably came on Lap 77 when he managed to get past Will Power through the track’s high-speed switchback section for fourth.

“The whole team did a great job this weekend, from the guys in the pits to the engineering staff working on race strategy,” Kimball said. “I just had to get it done on the race track. We started to see some real improvement at St. Petersburg, but didn’t really get the result we deserved. But it all came together for us today and it feels great.”

Kimball’s run was also part of a good weekend for Chip Ganassi Racing in their campaign for diabetes awareness with Novo Nordisk. Ganassi cars across IndyCar, NASCAR and Grand-Am competed with blue wheels, which represented the blue circle that serves as a global symbol for the International Diabetes Foundation (Kimball himself was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2007).

In addition to Scott Dixon (second) and Kimball contributing Top 5 IndyCar finishes at Barber, Ganassi’s Grand-Am team of Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas notched a fourth-place run there as well. Also, Jamie McMurray finished seventh today in the Sprint Cup race at Martinsville, which he drove with a blue-and-orange scheme that echoed Kimball’s open-wheel livery.

“I’ll have to talk to Novo Nordisk to let me run that scheme all year,” Kimball told’s Marshall Pruett afterwards.

Position of F1 start lights altered to compensate for safety halo

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The position of start lights will be altered on Formula One tracks this season, in a bid to ensure the drivers’ line of vision is not impeded by the controversial halo protection device.

The halo is a titanium structure introduced this year in a bid to ramp up driver safety, forming a ring around the cockpit top. It is designed to protect the drivers’ head from loose debris and offer better safety during eventual collisions.

Although drivers largely understand the need for it, very few like it. They are worried it impedes visibility, it looks ugly and also that fans will no longer be able to identify a driver properly from his race helmet. Drivers also take longer to climb in and out of their cars.

Formula One’s governing body has addressed concerns and asked every circuit “to make the lights at a standard height above the track,” FIA race director Charlie Whiting said.

“Pole position seems to be the worst case scenario with the halo,” Whiting added at the season-opening Australian GP. “Maybe the driver can’t quite see the lights, or see only half of them, and he might have to move his head too much.”

The new start lights were positioned lower for Friday’s first two practice sessions at Albert Park. Drivers were also allowed the rare chance to rehearse grid starts at the end of both sessions.

“We haven’t normally allowed practice starts on the grid here because it’s quite a tight timetable,” Whiting said. “What I thought would be a good idea was to give the driver sight of those lights, rather than for the first time on Sunday evening.”

A repeat set of lights has been moved from its usual position halfway up the grid to a more convenient position to the left.

“Those repeat lights were normally halfway up the grid, and they were fitted round about 2009, when the rear wings became higher on the cars,” Whiting said. “But now the wings have been lowered, there’s no need for those halfway up the grid.”