One week from returning to Toronto, where he scored a career-best runner-up finish last season, Charlie Kimball has matched that result today with a second-place effort at Pocono Raceway.
After the final pit stops of the afternoon were completed, Kimball, who started 12th, found himself in the lead with 29 laps remaining. He would lose the lead to Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon one lap later, and chased the former Indianapolis 500 winner to the checkered flag, losing out by less than half a second.
Still, the third-year American driver was pleased following his second Top-5 run of the season. He also surely impressed the group of families from sponsor Novo Nordisk’s North American headquarters, which made the two-hour trip north from New Jersey to cheer him on.
“Both Thursday at the [Open Test] and then yesterday, we really focused on our race car,” said Kimball. “The team [and] the whole Chip Ganassi Racing crew, as evidence by [the 1-2-3 finish], was focusing on race day, knowing that’s when it mattered. So throughout today, the guys made it better on each pit stop and the car just got quicker and quicker. A lot of credit to Honda – they gave us the fuel mileage and speed to get it done. All I had to do was pedal the car around.”
“It was a lot of fun. When you get a good car like that and running up front, it’s always fun.”
Right behind Kimball and completing the all-Ganassi podium was Dario Franchitti, who has struggled at times this year but netted a third-place finish after starting 20th due to an engine penalty.
“We went for a very aggressive setup, very low downforce,” said Franchitti, who earned his best result since running fifth in Race 2 of last month’s doubleheader in Detroit.
“When I get some kind of gap, I could run some fast laps. The Honda today – it’s so good on fuel mileage, and that really, really helped us. I could catch back up Charlie in spots, but I couldn’t do anything with him because of the aggressive setup we ran.”
Franchitti credited his charge from the back of the field to a variety of reasons.
“A lot of it is timing and momentum – you’re trying to keep the momentum up, but the car’s sliding and your brain’s telling you to lift,” Franchitti said. “Then you gotta keep your foot down.
“Some momentum passes and definitely some strategy with the Honda fuel mileage, some great pit stops from my guys, and just some hard racing too. I definitely made some moves out there.”