Charlie Kimball could be one to watch again in Toronto

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Coming off a runner-up performance last weekend at Pocono Raceway, “Big Mo” could be on Charlie Kimball’s side this weekend as he returns to Toronto – where he turned in his first IZOD IndyCar Series podium finish one year ago.

In last year’s battle at Exhibition Place, the third-year pilot for Chip Ganassi Racing jumped 11 spots to finish second, salvaging an otherwise disastrous day for the Ganassi gang that saw a mechanical failure for Scott Dixon and crashes for Graham Rahal and Dario Franchitti.

Especially impressive was how he put himself on the podium with 13 laps remaining: An eye-opening inside pass on both Simon Pagenaud and Tony Kanaan at Toronto’s infamous Turn 3. The Californian would survive contact on the final restart with Sebastien Bourdais (who went into the Turn 1 tire barrier as a result) and hang on to second, capping off a superb drive.

That was then, however. Now, things are certainly different this year as the Honda Indy Toronto (Saturday and Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network) has been turned into the second of three doubleheader weekends that the IndyCars will see in 2013.

But after CGR locked out the podium last weekend in Pennsylvania, with Dixon leading Kimball and Franchitti to the checkered flag, the American is understandably anxious to keep the momentum going – both for himself and for his team.

“I can’t wait to start the race weekend at the Honda Indy Toronto,” Kimball said in a team statement. “The team had a great race there last year, with our first podium finish, and we’re coming in with a good deal of momentum from our second place at Pocono.

“I think the whole Ganassi organization is really gelling, apparent from last weekend’s podium sweep, and if we continue to build on that we’ll have even more success through this second half of the IndyCar season.”

Kimball is also seeking this weekend to crack the Top 10 in the championship once again. He currently sits 12th, just seven points off of 10th-place Takuma Sato.

Watch this weekend’s Honda Indy Toronto online and on your mobile device.

Column: Contrasting Michael Schumacher’s and Robert Wickens’ situations

(Photo: Tony Gentile / Reuters)
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As much of the world looks forward to Christmas and New Years Day in the next few weeks, a dark anniversary is also on the near horizon.

It’s hard to believe that December 29 will mark five years since seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher was critically injured in a skiing accident, suffering a traumatic brain injury.

Schumacher and his family were on holiday in the French Alps when he fell and struck his head on a boulder. The impact was so severe that it cracked the helmet he was wearing straight through.

One can only imagine the damage the impact did to Schumacher’s skull and brain.

While chronologically the accident occurred a half-decade ago, for many of “Schu’s” most ardent fans, it seems like it was just yesterday when the earth-shattering news broke.

In the following days and weeks after his accident, Schumacher was placed in a medically induced coma, as well as had at least two surgeries on his brain.

Since then the world has waited for news about the racing legend’s condition, only to receive very little in terms of updates over the subsequent five years.

That’s the way his family wants it, having repeatedly requested privacy when it comes to details about Michael’s condition. That request for privacy should be respected.

Schumacher’s wife, Corrina, issued a rare statement late last month that didn’t really say much about her husband’s condition or recovery, but she did thank fans and well-wishers for their continued prayers and concern about her husband, adding, “We all know Michael is a fighter and will not give up.”

In the meantime, Schumacher’s fans have been able to stay somewhat close to his legacy by watching as his 19-year-old son, Mick, has showed significant achievement in his own budding racing career.

So much so that rumors have already popped up that the younger Schu may soon follow in his father’s F1 footsteps, perhaps as early as 2020.

That, of course, remains to be seen.

What makes the Schumacher situation so difficult for many to still understand is how, while enjoying a simple skiing excursion with his family, he suffered a life-changing accident while having survived some wicked crashes during his racing career that barely affected him.

We still don’t know if Schumacher can walk, talk, is conscious and lucid or not – and many of his fans have already accepted that we may never, ever know any of those details. But if that’s the way he and/or his family want it, again, then we need to respect their wishes.

At the same time, there’s another race car driver who suffered a horrendous injury at Pocono Raceway this past August, namely IndyCar driver Robert Wickens.

Wickens suffered a devastating spinal cord injury that has left him a paraplegic – although there remains a great deal of hope that he will one day walk again.

While both suffered serious injuries, there’s a significant contrast between Schumacher and Wickens. The former (or his family) is keeping all details about his condition private, while the latter keeps his fans and supporters regularly updated on social media on how he’s doing.

That includes Wickens posting a number of videos, including some rather humorous ones where he has a mischievous look in his eyes or a good-natured smirk on his face — like bringing in a Christmas tree to his rehab facility, or “racing” teammate James Hinchcliffe in wheelchairs in a Days of Thunder homage of sorts.

Watching each new Wickens video or reading his most recent online messages, it’s very clear that expressing himself and reaching out to the world is indeed good therapy and medicine of sorts for the Canadian driver.

He needs those social media posts and videos as much as we need them from him.

And it also helps fans better understand where Wickens is at in his recovery and rehab.

If Schumacher or his family wish to still remain private about his condition, we must respect that. But perhaps they could see the good will and good tidings that Wickens’ videos and posts offer. They’re as good for Wickens’ own well-being as they are for his fans — and they could be equally as good for Schumacher, his family and his fans.

Follow @JerryBonkowski