Kimball seizes his opportunity, ends third in Indy 500

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INDIANAPOLIS – Long-regarded by many as “the other guy” at Chip Ganassi Racing, when the team had any or all of Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Graham Rahal and now Tony Kanaan in its lineup, Charlie Kimball hasn’t had too many races where he’s really emerged as “the guy.”

He’s had drives of note before – Barber, Mid-Ohio and Fontana 2013, Detroit race two and both Houston races last year – and he’s also been in the lower tier of the top-10 on two prior occasions in the Indianapolis 500 (eighth in 2012, ninth in 2013).

Today, however, was arguably one of Kimball’s best drives of his Verizon IndyCar Series career, and easily his best in the Indianapolis 500.

Kimball ended third behind Team Penske teammates Juan Pablo Montoya and Will Power.

Kimball started 14th in the newly reliveried blue and green No. 83 Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, but quietly was up to sixth place by Lap 50.

That was noteworthy, as he passed fellow “class of 2011” Indianapolis 500 rookie JR Hildebrand a few laps previous to really begin to enter the fray behind the top five of Scott Dixon, Simon Pagenaud, Tony Kanaan, Helio Castroneves and Will Power.

Kimball hung tough throughout the day once he got into that position, although he admitted the middle of his race was tough, and stayed close enough to where he would have a chance to emerge even higher as the race progressed.

“The first couple stints, I couldn’t do anything wrong,” Kimball said. “Could have put that thing down through the grass and she’d have stuck.

“In the middle stint, felt like I couldn’t do anything right. I kept telling my guys, kept talking to Brad (Goldberg, engineer), tell him what the car was doing, asking for what I needed to be there at the end. He kept giving it to me. The last two stints we kept making progress.”

Arguably Kimball’s most important moment of the race came during the second-to-last pit stop cycle, when he entered the pits later than the aforementioned top-five, and then could get out ahead of them once Kanaan crashed and brought out the fourth full course caution.

That meant by Lap 155, Kimball had the lead ahead of Pagenaud, Dixon, Montoya and Power.

Kimball fell to sixth by Lap 170 and he was two spots further back after Andretti Autosport drivers Carlos Munoz and Justin Wilson gambled on fuel, hoping for another yellow to gain track position and end higher, but recovered in the final 15-lap dash to the finish.

Kimball settled in nicely behind the top three and once Dixon lost the momentum in the waning moments, Kimball was able to get back by and end a career-best third in the race.

“I saw Scott racing pretty hard with the Penske boys,” Kimball explained. “I thought that I could be in the catbird seat here if they go three-wide into one and I go in the warmup lane and come out the other side.

“Having said that, it was great racing. Scott had to lift for traffic, I wasn’t going to lift. I didn’t have anything for the Penske boys the last couple laps. A lot of credit to them. They ran strong all day.”

The result is Kimball’s second straight top-five at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, having finished fifth in the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis earlier this month.

He also leapt up to eighth in the points standings, having entered 14th. He heads into Detroit with the confidence and results boost, also knowing he had a podium finish there last year.

Kimball praised the racing all-around, considering he had a front row seat to most of the action up front.

“The guys were really clean today,” he said. “There was a lot of intelligent, respectful racing. Doesn’t mean it was not hard-fought right on the edge, but everybody understood what the situation was and was racing each other very cleanly.

“It’s the Indianapolis 500. You get to the front, you give it everything you’ve got. Every opportunity you have, you make the most of it.”

Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series triples to 34 races in 2023

Xtreme Outlaw Midget 2023
Xtreme Outlaw Series

After hosting 10 rounds in 2022, the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series 2023 schedule will more than triple to 34 races. The 2022 season featured seven different winners in the first seven races, a female racer in Jade Avedisian as the only repeat winner and Zach Daum as the champion.

“Dirt Midget racing is a growing entity in American motorsports, and the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series presented by Toyota is proud to drive further into the growth of the division with both a diverse and lucrative schedule for 2023,” newly appointed Series Director Tyler Bachman said in a press release. “From the kickoff at our first indoor event, to each of the new tracks we’re set to visit next year, it’s a lineup we know both our teams and fans will enjoy.”

The championship purse fund has also more than double with an increase of $42,000 to $80,000 in 2023. The champion will win $25,000. Last year, Daum pocketed $10,000.

In addition, the series will offer tow money to the top 12 in points. Six drivers attempted to qualify for all 10 races in 2022 with 89 drivers attending.

The series will begin on March 10 at Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin, Ill. and end the same place it did in 2022 at I-44 Riverside Speedway in Oklahoma City on October 15.

During the season, they will visit 21 tracks in 10 states.

Some highlights of the season include the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series pairing up with the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars in 2023 at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo. in April for the Outlaw Showdown and again in August for the Ironman 55 weekend, as well as the creation of a five-day Midget Speedweek.

The Midget Speedweek will immediately follow the Ironman 55 with a swing through Pennsylvania and New York.

Xtreme Outlaw Midget 2023 Schedule

Friday, March 10 | Southern Illinois Center | Du Quoin, Ill.
Saturday, March 11 | Southern Illinois Center | Du Quoin, Ill.
Friday, March 31 | Farmer City Raceway | Farmer City, Ill.

Saturday, April 1 | Farmer City Raceway | Farmer City, Ill.
Friday, April 14 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Saturday, April 15 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.

Friday, May 5 | Humboldt Speedway | Humboldt, Kan.
Saturday, May 6 | 81 Speedway | Park City, Kan.
Tuesday, May 23 | Millbridge Speedway | Salisbury, N.C.
Wednesday, May 24 | Millbridge Speedway | Salisbury, N.C.

Thursday, June 1 | Tri-City Speedway | Pontoon Beach, Ill.
Friday, June 2 | Wayne County Speedway | Wayne City, Ill.
Saturday, June 3 | Wayne County Speedway | Wayne City, Ill.

Friday, July 21 | TBA
Saturday, July 22 | Southern Illinois Raceway | Marion, Ill.
Friday, July 28 | TBA
Saturday, July 29 | Atomic Speedway | Chillicothe, Ohio
Sunday, July 30 | Brushcreek Motorsports Complex | Peebles, Ohio

Friday, August 4 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Sat, August 5 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Tuesday, August 8 | Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway | Newmanstown, Pa.
Wednesday, August 9 | Action Track USA | Kutztown, Pa.
Thursday, August 10 | Linda’s Speedway | Jonestown, Pa.
Friday, August 11 | TBA
Saturday, August 12 | Bridgeport Motorsports Park | Swedesboro, N.J.
Friday, August 25 | Davenport Speedway | Davenport, Iowa
Saturday, August 26 | Davenport Speedway | Davenport, Iowa

Friday, September 1 | Paragon Speedway | Paragon, Ind.
Saturday, September 2 | Paragon Speedway | Paragon, Ind.
Friday, September 15 | Jacksonville Speedway | Jacksonville, Ill.
Saturday, September 16 | Red Hill Raceway | Sumner, Ill.

Friday, October 13 | Port City Raceway | Tulsa, Okla.
Saturday, October 14 | I-44 Riverside Speedway | Oklahoma City, Okla.
Sunday, October 15 | I-44 Riverside Speedway | Oklahoma City, Okla.

* Co-sanctioned with POWRi