Win validation for Kimball and Novo Nordisk Ganassi crew (VIDEO)

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Occasionally derided or just known as “that driver with diabetes,” it’s been a long road for Charlie Kimball to get to victory lane in the IZOD IndyCar Series, as he finally did Sunday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The third-year driver from Camarillo, Calif. was the less heralded member of IndyCar’s trio of young North American rookie class in 2011. JR Hildebrand had the championship pedigree from Firestone Indy Lights and the deferral to MIT, while James Hinchcliffe was the self-made brand as the “Mayor of Hinchtown.” Kimball was there, deservedly so, but didn’t earn near the hype or accolades as his fellow Californian or that quirky Canadian.

At the time, honestly, he’d probably tell you he didn’t deserve any. Hildebrand was famously one corner away from a win in his first Indianapolis 500 start while Hinchcliffe took to IndyCar like a duck to water and earned Rookie-of-the-Year honors. Kimball, meanwhile, struggled with only five starts better than 16th and just two top-10 finishes; he finished 19th in points.

But come year two, Kimball was closer to the finished product and adapted quite well to the new Dallara DW12 chassis. As he and engineer Brad Goldberg found their comfort zone, they started qualifying better – he improved his qualifying position at every track except Barber – and had at least moved into the upper midfield with six top-10 finishes. Toronto, his first podium, proved the highlight with an unforgettable pass of Tony Kanaan and Simon Pagenaud at Turn 3, en route to second.

In year three, Kimball is nearly the finished article. The qualifying’s gotten better still, his road course prowess has increased, and the addition of new team manager Tom Wurtz just prior to Detroit has provided another level of leadership and experience with which to draw on.

Add in the one-year drop of a fourth car and the cohesive work between the Novo Nordisk and Target crews, and you see why Kimball is now tied for seventh in points in one of the deeper IndyCar fields in the last 20 years.

To hear him tell it, as he did after his win on Sunday at Mid-Ohio, it’s not as much about him as it is the effort of his team. It has been a methodical, step-by-step developmental process not unlike a baseball player who comes in raw as a rookie and improves with seasoning.

“It’s special for me, but it’s more importantly special for everyone that’s helped me get here,” said Kimball. “Chip taking the risk on me three years ago as a young rookie; Novo Nordisk, their commitment to my program and the commitment to motorsports to reach their audience over the last five years is fantastic.”

“It’s so fulfilling for me and for a lot of people,” he added. “I think that when you’re in the meetings with Chip and your first year, he’s telling you to go out and just finish the races and learn as much as possible. And you get a lot of flak for not getting the results that you might expect or want to, but you’re following the boss’s orders.

“Now to be able to repay that in my third year; I said at the beginning of the year that the last couple of years, we got the experience, we built the foundation, and as a team, we are ready to win, now we just need to do it. So to be able to get that win today and this weekend was definite validation for Chip, for the Novo Nordisk Group, my engineer, Brad, and all of the crew.”

Andretti United team names drivers for inaugural Extreme E season

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The Extreme E team formed by Andretti Autosport and United Autosports named Catie Munnings and Timmy Hansen as its drivers Monday for the series’ inaugural 2021 season.

Munnings is a successful veteran of rally series. Hansen is a past winner and champion in the World Rallycross Championship.

They both will race in the environmentally conscious electric SUV series that will hold events in five areas around the world that are threatened by climate change. Chip Ganassi Racing and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton also are fielding cars in Extreme E, which will feature male and female co-drivers on every team.

Catie Munnings

“I’m so excited to join Andretti United Extreme E,” Munnings said in a release. ““I was really intrigued when I first heard about Extreme E, I just knew I had to be involved. The male / female racing partnership is a fantastic and exciting new concept. The season has incredible locations and the racing will be very exciting. It will be a new challenge for the teams and drivers, and I’m so thrilled to be working with such a strong team.

“The championship is a really innovative concept, it’s combining motorsport and science and will produce an important legacy in each race location. Bringing the platform that motorsport has in line with the awareness that the planet needs right now is awesome and a really important message.”

Timmy Hansen

Said Hansen: “Going into the Extreme E will be a new chapter in my career, one that I am extremely excited about. It is something brand new, not only for me, but the whole of motorsport. The format is something

we’ve never seen before. I’m also delighted to be able to carry the message of something bigger – talking about the environment and doing something good for the world – that’s something that really drives me. It’s going to be a big adventure in life to see these locations and I’m going to do my best in carrying this responsibility and hopefully making people aware of the challenges we have in the world, together with our passion for racing.”