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

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).