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Kimball ends sixth after pair of incidents with Rahal, Power (VIDEO)

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WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Scott Dixon’s Chip Ganassi Racing car is sponsored by Target.

Charlie Kimball’s Chip Ganassi Racing car was one Sunday at Watkins Glen International.

Kimball’s No. 83 Tresiba Chevrolet was in the eye of the storm for the majority of Sunday’s INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen presented by Hitachi, after being involved in the two heaviest incidents of the Verizon IndyCar Series race.

Kimball started 14th and ended sixth but it was what occurred in-between the 60 laps of the race made for quite a day.

On Lap 20, Kimball was to the outside of Graham Rahal, with the two making contact on corner exit of Turn 1. Rahal slid up the road into Kimball, who was to his outside, before then careening back into the inside tire barrier.

Rahal was less than pleased. “Kimball decided to not give me any room on the exit. Probably the hardest hit I’ve taken in my life. But I have to take blame too. I shouldn’t have put myself in that position. I should know better than to race him like that,” he told NBCSN during the broadcast.

Kimball told NBCSports.com post-race, “I didn’t think we had a lot of contact with Graham. I felt like I gave him plenty of room around the inside, I was focused on the exit because really the big passing opportunity especially with a restart like that was up the hill into the Bus Stop.”

But he pressed on. Unfortunately he was caught up in the race’s biggest moment when he and Will Power collided as they came up the Esses.

Kimball had a monster run on Power, and Power moved up, perhaps not realizing that Kimball was there. It sent Power into the Armco barrier on driver’s left of corner exit. Although he was checked and released, Power has not been cleared to drive owing to concussion-like symptoms.

“We came up the hill and everyone else that I passed I got to the left, and everyone stayed right to block, and Will – it’s like he had no idea I was there, because he just kept following I think the 26 car over, and ran me onto the grass, and when I bounced off the grass I bounced into him,” Kimball said. “I was sorry to have gotten into him but frankly if he’d have known I was there, I know he wouldn’t have run me off the road.”

Kimball expanded on the notion that Power must not have seen him.

“Oh yeah, for sure. Everyone else when I got the run down the hill… the way the momentum is in these cars, you’ve got to get the momentum up the hill and then because the crown in the road is so big up that straight, you kind of pick either lane,” he said.

“Well everyone else when I got to the left of coming around that right-hander, Turn 4 I guess it is, they stayed left. Will, it’s like he had no idea I was there. He kept following the 26 up and I went in the run-off, there’s a little bit of paved run-off, and when it ended I bounced off the grass and hit him. It’s like he didn’t know I was there, because I know if he’d known I was there, he’d have just run down the inside.

“Absolutely, because everyone else I had followed and passed up the hill stayed right for the Bus Stop.”

Kimball unofficially sits ninth in points heading to the Verizon IndyCar Series’ season finale at Sonoma Raceway in two weeks, at a track where he finished on the podium last year.

Mario Andretti says Colton Herta could be next American star in F1

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Mario Andretti’s last Formula One victory is also the last by an American driver in more than 42 years on the international open-wheel road racing series.

If you had told Andretti that while he was celebrating on the Grand Prix of the Netherlands podium on Aug. 27, 1978 at the Vandzoort circuit, he wouldn’t have believed it.

“Absolutely not,” Andretti told Kyle Petty during the most recent “Coffee With Kyle” episode (video above). “It’s a shame. Somehow we have so much talent here, and either there’s no invitation or something there. But I think it’s time to give some of this young talent that, in my opinion, is absolutely capable.”

The Dutch GP was the last of Andretti’s 12 victories in F1 and came during his championship season. No one since has come close to matching his success in F1.

Mario Andretti drives his Lotus-Ford to victory in the 1978 Grand Prix of the Netherlands (Bernard Cahier/Getty Images).

Andretti’s son, Michael, took a full-time ride with McLaren in 1993 but left with three races remaining in a season marred by crashes and mechanical problems.

Scott Speed was the last American to run a full F1 season in 2006, and Alexander Rossi made the most recent F1 start by a U.S. driver in 2015. Rossi has said he has no desire to return to racing in Europe after winning the 2016 Indianapolis 500 and becoming an IndyCar championship contender.

But Mario Andretti believes Andretti Autosport has another rising star with F1-caliber ability.

“Colton Herta is one that comes to mind,” Mario Andretti said. “As a young lad, his dad sent him to Europe, he was doing Formula 3, and he knows most of the circuits there. He’s trained. He’s showed in his rookie season and won some premium races at COTA (and Laguna Seca), beat two of the very best Indy has to offer (in) Will Power and Scott Dixon.

“This is one kid I’d love to see him get a break over there to fly the U.S. colors again.”

Herta, 20, seems interested in exploring an F1 leap over the next few years. After winning Sept. 13 at Mid-Ohio from the pole position (his third career victory in the NTT IndyCar Series), the No. 88 Dallara-Honda driver is ranked fourth in the standings in his sophomore year and regarded as one of the series’ top prospects.

Herta recently told RACER.com “I’d love to give Formula 1 a crack” but said he also would be happy driving in IndyCar and IMSA.

A naturalized U.S. citizen who told Petty about spending several years with his family in an Italian refugee camp before coming to America, Mario Andretti said F1 brought an enormous sense of patriotic pride.

“Formula One is like the Olympics in a sense,” he said. “You’re in a different country, a different continent. When you earn that highest step of the podium, they play your national anthem. That’s when you take nothing for granted. You feel like I’m representing my country, and the proudest moments are those.

“I’d just like to see some other American drivers experience that. It’s time.”

Mario Andretti with four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton before the Nov. 22, 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).

During the “Coffee With Kyle” conversation, Andretti also discussed:

–His versatility as a winner in IndyCar, sports cars, NASCAR and Formula One;

–His 1967 Daytona 500 victory and how he enjoyed racing with crew chief Jake Elder at the famed Holman-Moody team;

Mario Andretti Colton Herta
Mario Andretti and Kyle Petty saluted “The King” by wearing their Richard Petty-style hats during the latest “Coffee With Kyle” (NBCSN).

–Why he delayed his entry to F1 for a few years because of his earnings power in IndyCar. “I always say I’d race for free, but at the same time, you’re thinking of family and the future,” he said. “It was in the back of your mind that you can’t give up the earning power of IndyCar. That kept me from going full time in Formula One, but I always said that sometime in my career, I’d have to devote a period to Formula One.”

–On what it was like racing in an era when driver deaths were more prevalent. “If you’re going to do this, you’re not going to dwell on those negatives,” Andretti said. “There’s no way. You knew it was present. Especially in the ‘60s at the beginning of the season at the drivers meetings, you couldn’t help but look around and say, ‘I wonder who is not going to be here at the end of the season.’ We’d lose four to five guys. In ’64, we lost six guys.

“It’s something if you dwell on that, you’re going to take on a different profession. It’s a desire and love to want to drive that overcame all that and then the confidence it’s not going to happen to me. And then you pray.”

Watch the full “Coffee With Kyle” episode in the video above or by clicking here.

Mario Andretti looks on before the 103rd Indianapolis 500 on May 26, 2019 (Chris Graythen/Getty Images).