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 SPEED.com’s Marshall Pruett afterwards.

MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”

The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.

“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”

Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.

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