Thursday, September 20, 2012

A look back...

Is it September already? I feel like I’m finally coming up for air after being immersed since March, so now is a good time to reflect on the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season with the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team.

Pre-season testing at Sebring
Having the new DW12 put everyone on a level playing field in some senses. Throughout the many, many off-season tests, it was all about experimentation and finding out what works best, from the carbon brakes to the Honda engines and every little piece in between.

Coming into the season, we sat down and set some goals for the team and myself. I’m not a rookie any more, so it was important to use this year as a building period, using what we learned last season and improving on our weaknesses. Over the winter we set our sights on running inside the top-10 consistently with top-10 finishes. Looking back, I think we had our ups-and-downs, but overall I’m really pleased with the advancements we’ve made from last season.

The season started off on a high note at St. Pete with a ninth-place finish. At Long Beach, the No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen car was really quick and we ran up front in the top-10, but unfortunately we had an issue late in the race so our results just didn’t show our hard work. Brazil was a high point for sure—the guys gave me a great car, and with good strategy and a clean track we were able to come out with a new career-best of eighth.
2012 Indy 500
The Indy 500 deserves its own paragraph because it’s just that awesome, right? The Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team worked so hard all month long, and I think that paid off with our 14th qualifying position. May can sometimes be a blur of countless appearances and miles and miles of practice runs, but I honestly had a ton of fun during this year’s race. The car was quick from the start, we had good restarts, we led three laps—and to top it off, we matched a career-best finish of eighth.

Toronto 2012
From Indy, the series had a month-long road trip that proved to be a roller coaster as far as our results. We came out with our third consecutive eighth-place finish at Detroit, then had some bad luck in Texas but came out of Iowa with some momentum heading into the two Canadian races. Toronto was a race like no other for me—the No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen car was super quick, the guys in the pits did their jobs perfectly, and I just went for it on the track. And we had our first podium, 2nd place, to show for the hard work… such a good day!

One of the low points of the season was definitely the testing incident when I fractured my hand. Missing Mid-Ohio was tough but we came back strong at Sonoma and Baltimore although with some issues, we didn’t get the results we wanted. It was nice to cap off the 2012 season with a top-10 at Fontana.

So there you have it… six top-10s, one podium, and a lot of time racing inside the top-10 positions. I know that the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team is going to come back stronger next year. We’ve got this figured out, and we’re ready to go figure out the rest of our shortcomings. We’ll be stronger next year, and more importantly, faster.

As for now, I'm headed off to somewhere sunny and warm for a much-needed vacation. Yes, the phone is turning off and sunscreen is going on! Thanks to all of the IndyCar fans, the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team, my awesome Novo Nordisk support system and everyone who has helped make this another fantastic season of racing. Already counting down the days until the 2013 season...

Monday, September 17, 2012

Keeping Up to Speed with Charlie - Fontana

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Live From Trackside - Fontana

Saturday, Sept. 15
11:00 p.m.
It’s nice to finish out 2012 with a top-10 for the whole Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing crew. They deserved better than that tonight. We had a much better car but I made a mistake in the pits and it took me too long to figure it out early in the race, but I know that the No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen car is going to come back stronger next year. We got this figured out. We’re ready to go figure out the rest of our short-comings. We’ll be stronger next year, and more importantly, faster.

500 miles of racing... a good way to finish off the season.
Visting the Novo Nordisk FlexPen Tunnel in the afternoon.
What does a helmet look like after 500 miles? Like this!
Friday, Sept. 14
7:30 p.m.
It's hot... No other way to describe today! It made for a long day but I think we made some progress on track, so I can't complain.

I’m pretty happy with the No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen car. It was pretty quick. Especially when the sun goes down, that’s what will really matter. With a 500-mile race, you can go front-to-back a few times, so it’s more about the racecar than it is qualifying here. The temperature is going to be so different for the race. When the sun goes down, it can drop 10 to 15 degrees and that’s going to be a factor in tomorrow’s race.

For now, I'm headed off to dinner with some Cali friends. We have a huge group coming out to the race tomorrow (more than 90 friends and family!)... Looking forward to putting on a good show for everyone. 

The 2012 Honda drivers.
Practice pit stop for the No. 83 crew.
Thursday, Sept. 13
3 p.m.
Well, it's here... the last race weekend of the 2012 IndyCar season. I'm looking forward to showing what we can do with the No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen car here at Fontana, and hopefully we'll finish off the season on a high note! Make sure you come by the Novo Nordisk FlexPen Tunnel on Saturday if you're at the track!

I started out the day with a Twitter chat with fans via @NBCSN (NBC Sports Network). Check out a recap here. Through @racewithinsulin, I'll be their "Twitter reporter" for the race weekend at Fontana (@ACSupdates)... providing a "behind-the-scenes" look at the INDYCAR World Championships. Be sure to follow to see some fun pics and video!

Here's a quick run-down of this weekend's schedule (all times local/Pacific). As always, live timing and scoring for all sessions is available here.

10:45 am-12:15 pm  Practice
2:15-3:45 pm  Qualifying
5:45-6:30 pm  Practice

1:45 pm  Appearance at the Novo Nordisk FlexPen Tunnel (in the INDYCAR Fan Village)
2:30-3:30 pm  IndyCar Autograph Session (in the INDYCAR Fan Village)
4:30 pm  NBC Sports Network coverage begins (local listings here)

5:45 pm  "Drivers, start your engines!"

Thursday, September 13, 2012

My new (temporary) side job!

As you may remember, I had the honor of acting as the @IMS "Twitter reporter" during the month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway via @racewithinsulin. Well, I must have done alright because I've been reinstated! This time around, I'll be helping out NBC Sports Network as the Twitter reporter for the INDYCAR World Championships at Auto Club Speedway this weekend.

To kick off my first day on the job, @NBCSN will be hosting a Twitter chat today at 11 a.m. Pacific (that's 2 p.m. Eastern). Tag your questions with #KimballChat and join in!

My job duties:
- Give fans an all-access pass to the race weekend from a driver's perspective
- Share my thoughts before and after each on-track session
- Provide some insight while I'm driving... via my Pit Lane Reporter ("PLR") of course
- Share photos and videos to give you an inside view of life in the paddock
- Answer your questions, sent to me on Twitter via @racewithinsulin, @NBCSN or #KimballChat

If you tune in to the race broadcast on NBC Sports Network (Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Eastern), you just might see some of the tweets featured during the race!

Hope you guys enjoy this... I think it's going to be a ton of fun!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Time flies...

...when you're having fun. I can't believe in one week, the 2012 season will be behind us already. I feel like we just got started! However, I'm really excited to be going back to California to finish out the season. We've had a really good year and it'd be nice to finish on a high note at Auto Club Speedway. I think the No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen car has come along really well, especially the second half of the season. The whole Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team--from the crew to the strategists--has been working really well together. With a 500-mile race, we'll have to make sure we keep making smart decisions, move forward from where we start, and finish up toward the front at the end of the race.

I leave Indy tomorrow for the test session in Fontana on Wednesday. It will be nice to have that extra practice day at the track before the race this weekend. Hope to see you there for the INDYCAR World Championships!

On the grid at St. Pete in March... we've come a long way!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Keeping Up to Speed with Charlie - Baltimore

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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Live From Trackside - Baltimore

Sunday, Sept. 2
6:11 p.m.
It was a really great run for the No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen car all day. The car was quick and the guys in the pit lane did an awesome job. The team not only made the right strategy calls to keep me on slicks when it was damp but also the second stop they did a really good job. It’s a shame to have something behind me go wrong around lap 65 but we proved we have the speed all weekend. We’ll carry that on to Fontana, finish the year out with a really good result and head to 2013 looking to come back stronger than ever.
On the grid during pre-race.
9:15 a.m.
Happy race day! I feel really good about the race today. We were so close to getting into the Firestone Fast Six during qualifying yesterday, and I know the No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen car is quick. We'll work on getting things set during this morning's practice then work our way up the field later today.

Saturday, Sept. 1
4:30 p.m.
It was a really good qualifying session today. It was a little busy in both groups I ran in. The No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen car was quick. With as limited practice time we got, it felt really good to get a nice lap in like that. The race will be good tomorrow. We’ll use some new strategy and some new reds to move forward.

I'm having dinner with some of my friends from Novo Nordisk tonight... They have quite a few guests coming to the race tomorrow (more than 400, to be exact!), so I'm excited to show what we can do on track!
A rainy morning start.

Pit stop practice for the No. 83 crew.
8:07 a.m.
I can't believe it's already September... This season has flown by! Time flies when you're having fun, right?

It was great to be back in the top-10 during the afternoon practice yesterday. Now the challenge is finding that little bit of extra speed for qualifying. I know the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team is working super hard to get it done, so I'll be working just as hard for a good qualifying spot here in Baltimore.

Friday, Aug. 31
5:30 p.m.
It was a good start to the weekend. It was nice to see the track and the series come up with a solution that works for a little bit of practice today. The No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen car is pretty good. I think the weekend is looking up. We’ll see how tomorrow goes. I think that qualifying is going to be pretty important here, even though there are some passing opportunities.

Thursday, Aug. 30
12:30 p.m.
It's a beautiful, sunny day here in Baltimore! I've finished up with my media interviews this morning, and I'm off to the track to meet with my engineers and do a quick track walk after lunch. We're actually staying right inside the circuit, so I can basically roll out of bed and into the car!

Here's a virtual lap of the track, courtesy of Can't wait to get the No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen car out there tomorrow!

Wednesday, Aug. 29
3:00 p.m.
I'm really looking forward to racing here in Baltimore with the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team. Not only was the racing exciting last year, but so was the entire atmosphere of the event. The fans made it a special and fun inaugural event, and I have no doubt it will be even better this year. Novo Nordisk has a ton of guests coming out, so I'm excited to put on a good show for them. We had a really good run at Baltimore last year, running inside the top-10 before an incident caused us to lose a couple of laps. With the track changes and experience, I think the No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen car will be racing up front again this weekend.

I arrived in town a bit early for a Novo Nordisk dinner this evening, where I'll be presenting about my racing program. Always fun to meet the field reps and share my story! Tomorrow morning I'll be on WBFF FOX and WMAR-TV ABC here in Baltimore before starting my race weekend prep at the track.

Here's my race weekend schedule for those attending and those following along at home...

Friday, Aug. 31:
9:30-10:30 am Practice
1-1:45 pm Appearance at the Novo Nordisk FlexPen Tunnel (in the INDYCAR Fan Village)
2:45-3:45 pm Practice

Saturday, Sept. 1:
9-10 am Practice
12:05-1:20 pm Qualifying (on NBC Sports Network at 6 pm ET)
2:30-3:30 pm IndyCar Autograph Session (in the INDYCAR Fan Village)

Sunday, Sept. 2:
9:45-10:15 am Warm Up
2:30 pm Grand Prix of Baltimore (live on NBC Sports Network)
Timing and scoring for all on-track sessions available here.

Hope to see you out here this weekend!