Charlie Kimball scores first IndyCar win at Mid-Ohio (VIDEO)

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American driver Charlie Kimball became the fourth first-time winner in this year’s IZOD IndyCar Series championship after pulling away in the closing laps to win the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Kimball, 28, of Camarilllo, California, made the pass for the win with 17 laps remaining. Simon Pagenaud had pitted one lap previous from the lead and came out ahead of Kimball. But as the two raced down the backstretch on the 2.26-mile road course, Kimball pulled to the inside and managed to get past Pagenaud going into Turn 4.

“I knew we had the grip and we had hot tires and a little less fuel in the tank, so I knew that if I could get the run – as soon as I saw he was coming out of pit lane, I went to the overtake [boost] knowing if I could get some momentum going, I could go by him,” Kimball said to NBCSN.

“He tried to brake-check me or just go late to the throttle in the middle of [Turn] 2, but the Honda power just got me close enough to him that I could put it up the inside and take the spot. Then I just had to go clean home.”

Any chance for Pagenaud to reel Kimball back in as his tires warmed up quickly disappeared, and Kimball went on to his inaugural IndyCar win by 5.5 seconds over the Frenchman. It’s an especially impressive triumph, considering that he crashed his primary No. 83 Novo Nordisk Honda in a scary practice incident on Saturday morning and then utilized a three-stop strategy during today’s caution-free race.

“I can’t give enough credit to the guys at Chip Ganassi Racing – not just the Novo Nordisk crew but the Target guys yesterday to give me a car in qualifying to start in the Top 5 after I wrote off the primary in Turn 1 yesterday morning,” Kimball said. “They said ‘You gotta hit this target’ and all I had to do was drive the NovoLog Flexpen car to that number and she was quick. That’s all I had to do.”

Pagenaud didn’t think that Kimball would be able to pull off the move in Turn 4, but was nonetheless impressed.

“Man, that was a bold move,” said Pagenaud, one of those aforementioned four drivers who have notched their first IndyCar wins in 2013. “I didn’t think he would make it, but he did. It was a great move from him, and I can only congratulate him because honestly, I gave ’em hell today – 100 percent.”

TCGR’s Dario Franchitti completed an all-Honda podium with a solid third-place result ahead of Team Penske’s Will Power in fourth and pole sitter Ryan Hunter-Reay in fifth.

In the championship picture, points leader Helio Castroneves was able to come from 14th starting position to finish sixth – one spot ahead of Scott Dixon, who looked poised to gain on the Brazilian but instead lost some ground at the track where he’s won four times in his open-wheel career.

Heading into the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on Aug. 25 (4 p.m. ET, NBCSN), Castroneves now holds a 31-point lead over Dixon with five races remaining in the season.

IZOD IndyCar Series – Honda Indy 200
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
Order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):
1. (5) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running
2. (8) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running
3. (6) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running
4. (2) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 90, Running
5. (1) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Chevy, 90, Running
6. (14) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 90, Running
7. (3) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running
8. (7) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running
9. (4) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Chevy, 90, Running
10. (12) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Chevy, 90, Running
11. (9) Simona De Silvestro, Dallara-Chevy, 90, Running
12. (13) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 90, Running
13. (10) James Jakes, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running
14. (17) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Chevy, 90, Running
15. (16) James Davison, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running
16. (24) Luca Filippi, Dallara-Honda, 90, Running
17. (11) EJ Viso, Dallara-Chevy, 89, Running
18. (22) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 89, Running
19. (20) Sebastian Saavedra, Dallara-Chevy, 89, Running
20. (23) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy, 89, Running
21. (21) Tristan Vautier, Dallara-Honda, 89, Running
22. (15) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 89, Running
23. (18) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 88, Running
24. (19) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 64, Off course

Race Statistics
Winner’s average speed: 117.825 mph
Time of Race: One hour, 43 minutes, 29.1371 seconds
Margin of victory: 5.5334 seconds
Cautions: None
Lead changes: Five

Lap Leaders
Hunter-Reay, 1-30
Kimball, 31-41
Pagenaud, 42-47
Kimball, 48-64
Pagenaud, 65-72
Kimball, 73-85

Point Standings
1. Castroneves – 453
2. Dixon – 422
3. Hunter-Reay – 388
4. Andretti – 377
5. Pagenaud – 350
6. Franchitti – 342
7. Hinchcliffe/Kimball – 325
9. Wilson – 320
10. Kanaan – 313

Rebellion confirms LMP1 return, all-star line-up for WEC super season

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Rebellion Racing has confirmed it will return to the LMP1 class of the FIA World Endurance Championship for the 2018/19 ‘super season’ with an all-star line-up featuring Le Mans winners Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer.

Rebellion raced in LMP1 as a privateer between 2009 and 2016 before stepping down to LMP2 for the most recent season, capturing the class titles at the first attempt.

Following a push from the WEC and Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) to make LMP1 more appealing to privateer teams, Rebellion announced on Wednesday it would return to the premier class for the 2018/19 season with a two-car effort.

WEC LMP2 champion Bruno Senna will return with Rebellion next year, as will Mathias Beche, with the pair set to be joined by four new faces.

The most notable arrivals are Porsche factory drivers Lotterer and Jani, both of whom were left without an LMP1 drive following the closure of the German manufacturer’s program at the end of the season.

American racer Gustavo Menezes will also join Rebellion, stepping up after two years in LMP2, while outstanding 2017 rookie Thomas Laurent completes the Swiss team’s line-up.

“I am looking forward to coming back where my endurance career started nine years ago,” said Jani.

“Rebellion Racing played a huge role in my career and also helped me become a factory driver for Porsche. When Porsche stopped in LMP1, it was clear for me that I wanted to race again for Rebellion.

“With the new regulations, I hope we can reach the overall podium at Le Mans and with a bit of luck, maybe we can even grab some wins during the super season of WEC.”

“I am very happy to join the champion Rebellion team,” added three-time Le Mans winner Lotterer.

“The LMP1 project is very exciting and to be able to go on with the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA WEC challenge is something I did not want to miss.

“I am motivated and looking forward to have a great time with great people there.”