INDIANAPOLIS — You’d be hard pressed to find a nicer guy in the NTT IndyCar Series paddock than Charlie Kimball. The California native will make his 10th start in the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, but for the first time of his career, he’ll also be doing so with AJ Foyt Racing.
Kimball spent his first seven years of his career with Chip Ganassi Racing. He was a very underrated racer here with them. In those seven tries, Kimball came home in the top 10 in four of them including two of his final three with Ganassi in the top five.
He slid over to Carlin the last couple of years and following a part-time campaign in 2019, he’s back full time in the series in 2020. This time, with Foyt.
“Being a part of the AJ Foyt family has been really neat,” Kimball said. “The support, the experience, the history there, it’s second to none. Talking with AJ, he’s still a racers racer. There’s still great stories and he comes alive telling those stories. It’s so much fun sitting in the garage hearing those stories and picking his brain. I think it brings a little more pressure which I love.
“It’s a great opportunity. One of my favorite quotes in sports is from Billie Jean King which it says ‘character is a privilege and the opportunity to have that pressure means that you’re doing something special.”
Kimball, has had a so-so month so far. He was good in practice on Wednesday, but a problem was found on his No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet on Thursday. They’ve been chasing it ever since. In fact, he should have crashed in qualifying he said, which is why he’ll roll off on the Middle of Row 10 for Sunday’s race.
“I think the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet, we had a gremlin that started we think on Thursday, got worse on Friday and really reared its ugly head in qualifying on Saturday,” said Kimball. “One of the mechanics watched the onboard and said I crashed, I just didn’t hit anything in Turn 4. It was probably the loosest I ever had a car on an oval and not crashed. It showed back up on Sunday so the guys changed a lot of things late Sunday night and early Monday morning. Pretty sure we found it. We’re going back to a known baseline.”
Still, this Sunday is going to be different for Kimball and everyone else. No fans will be there. That’s a shame for everyone, but it doesn’t make Sunday’s race less special too.
But, for Kimball, he hopes he can one day experience a Month of May at Indy with Foyt in one of his cars and just to see how everyone gravitates to his boss in the most important month of the year.
“I hope I get that experience with AJ in the future, in garage stall 1 to hear all the historians and to hear the stories and descendants of drivers he raced with and mechanics he worked with to see them come through the garage and the energy that AJ puts out when those guys are there is awesome,” Kimball said. “It’s obvious how much he loves this place and how much this place means to him.”
A win would be special on Sunday and Kimball has the talent to put he and Super Tex in victory lane each for the first time since 2013.