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 SPEED.com’s Marshall Pruett afterwards.
Sunday’s United States Grand Prix could go down as a memorable race in Formula 1 history as both Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes bid to clinch their fourth world championships (live on NBC and NBC Sports app from 2pm ET).
Hamilton gave his chances of wrapping up the drivers’ title and re-claiming the crown he lost to Nico Rosberg in 2016 a world of good by charging to pole position on Saturday at the Circuit of The Americas.
However, with chief rival Sebastian Vettel starting second for Ferrari and a 16-point swing required, it seems likely that the title race could continue to next weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix.
Nevertheless, here are the permutations for Lewis Hamilton to win his fourth F1 world title on Sunday in Austin, Texas.
- If Lewis Hamilton wins the race (25 points) and Sebastian Vettel finishes sixth or lower (maximum eight points), he is world champion.
- If Hamilton finishes second (18 points), Sebastian Vettel finishes ninth or lower (maximum two points), and Valtteri Bottas does not win the race, he is world champion.
While Hamilton’s coronation seems likely to be postponed until the next race in Mexico, Mercedes looks nailed-on to wrap up its fourth consecutive constructors’ championship in Sunday’s USGP.
The German marque currently leads Ferrari by 145 points in the teams’ standings, and requires a lead of 129 after the race to clinch the crown.
As a result, a double top-four finish from Hamilton and Bottas would be enough for Mercedes to wrap up the title, regardless of how Ferrari fares.
The success would see Mercedes become just the fourth team in F1 history take four straight constructors’ titles, following Red Bull (2010 to 2013), Ferrari (1999 to 2004) and McLaren (1988 to 1991).
The United States Grand Prix is live on NBC and the NBC Sports app from 2pm ET on Sunday.