Chevy Racing–Pocono IndyCar 500 Post Race Interviews

JULY 5, 2014

CHARLIE KIMBALL, NO. 83 No. 83 LEVEMIR® FLEXTOUCH® CHIP GANASSI RACING CHEVROLET met with members of the media at Pocono Raceway and discussed racing at Pocono, his season to date, outlook for rest of season and other topics.  Full transcript:

ON BEING BACK AFTER PODIUM FINISH HERE AT POCONO IN 2013:  “It is always race; at least it was last year for us.  The track itself is pretty challenging, at least from my perspective. All three corners are very different. You have to balance the setup of the three corners very differently. But overall, it’s great to be back. It’s nice to need a sweatshirt in the morning after last weekend in Houston.   I’ll admit, not complaining, after last weekend, I’m not going to complain about the coolness. It is nice to be up here in the Poconos. It is such a beautiful setting. I really enjoyed the drive over from the airport yesterday. It’s nice to be able to enjoy the July 4th weekend in such a beautiful setting.”

ON THE REST OF THE SEASON: “I think the first half (of the season) has been kind of a tale of two stories.  When we’ve finished, we’ve been inside the top-10; you mentioned those three top-fives.  We had a really good battle to claim a top-five in the second race at Houston last weekend. And, the second race in Detroit to get that podium. But we’ve also fought a few DNFs. A couple of mechanical challenges, and then getting caught-up in incidents both during the 500, as well as race one at Houston. For the second half of the season, I think we are trying to solidify that consistency, and continue to get to the end of races, and keep our streak going of getting to the end, and finishing well when we do.”

ANY ILL EFFECTS FROM THE HEAT LAST WEEK? “We all knew in the off-season it was going to be tough physically. As a result, we trained for it. I did a lot of work; pulled a lot of resources from different exercises physiologists, and some of the science side to learn as much as I could during the cold winter months in Indianapolis. Overall, I felt really good. I got out of the car, and yes, I was tired on Monday, but no more than I was after the doubleheader at Detroit. No more than I will be Sunday night here after 500 miles tomorrow. No ill effects. Re-hydrating was as important as pre-hydrating. As I said, it’s nice to the ambient temperature down a little bit. It is nice because I think because the drivers have a better opportunity to interact with the fans on race weekend. All last weekend we spent going from air conditioning to pit lane; pit lane back to air conditioning trying to stay cool and save as much energy for when it counted. So at least here, it’s nice to be able to be able to enjoy the time outside, and interact and thank the fans for coming out. Because I think that is an important part.”

CAN YOUR POSITIVE RESULT HERE LAST YEAR ADD TO YOUR CONFIDENCE FOR SUCCESS HERE THIS YEAR? “I think that the confidence for us as a team having had that podium sweep here last year, and myself with that second place finish, you come in with a good understanding of where the car was, and what direction….Firestone made a small adjustment to the right front tire for this year. We were pretty happy in first practice. We had a small mechanical issue so we didn’t get to finish the fast five, or 10 minutes, and keep up with the track as it sped up at the end there. The conditions are quite a bit different than last year. It is 15 to 20 degrees cooler, and the wind is a little bit stronger…but other than that, we have a lot of confidence heading into the weekend. It changes the strategy a little bit with it being 500 miles versus 400 miles. Last year I think I would have taken a 500 mile race. Hopefully when we get done with 500 miles tomorrow, I would be happy to have 550 or 600 miles. We’ll see how it goes. It does change the strategy and as a team you’re looking towards those extra 100 miles from lap one. Even today in race trim, we’re working towards that direction. It makes some adjustments, but having that great result it meant that the two weeks off testing wise we could go focus on some areas we needed to improve rather than feeling we had to come here, and run at Pocono. Overall I think this morning has gone well. I feel like we have picked up pretty close to where we left off. As a team, we have a lot of confidence heading into the rest of today, and tomorrow.”

ON EASE OF CHANGE FROM HONDA ENGINE TO CHEVROLET: “The biggest thing from my side is the sticker on the engine cover climbing in the cockpit. In as far as the car or the engines drive, they are very similar. You see a little bigger differences I think, or at least from the engine I ran last year being a single turbo to the twin turbo DI (direct injection) Chevy this year more on the road and street circuits where you are at a higher boost level and it’s more dynamic as far as the throttle applications and lifting, and braking and downshifting and cornering especially here at Pocono. You are pretty close to flat, or flat all the way around. It’s a big challenge to feel much difference within the cockpit. Overall it’s been a lot of fun this year working with Team Chevy guys. It was really nice to get that podium in Detroit in their backyard for them. That always helps when the management is there to go out and sweep a podium. Hopefully we can get a good result for them here. I know they have struggled a little bit on the big ovals. Didn’t get the win that they really wanted at Indy, so hopefully we can do it in the two last 500 mile races for the Triple Crown.”

ON THE WEATHER FORCING CHANGES TO THE CAR: “I think it is very similar to how we started last year, how we started today. The car’s not as sensitive as you might imagine. It changes a little bit what we do in the cockpit based on looking at the flag and seeing how hard it is gusting, and how hard it is blowing especially in turn three when you don’t have the banking kind of shading the line from the wind. Overall you start very similar, and you do have to make some adjustments both in the cockpit with my tools, as well as the line driving throughout the corner. We’ve made a couple adjustments set-up wise to compensate for the wind and the temperature, but overall, it is very, very similar.”

AT WHAT POINT IN LAST YEAR’S RACE DID YOU REALIZE THE GANASSI STRATEGY WAS GOING TO WORK? “How many laps did we do last year? 160? About 159! You never know how it is going to play out. Even last week in the street circuit race at Houston and the Indy road course, because of a late yellow the strategy flipped on its head. Some guys were able to go the distance on fuel, and some guys had full fuel and were just trying to get as much of a gap at some point to try to get that stop it late. I think it was probably about half way through that last stint when everyone started to peel in for a splash of fuel at the end and we’d done our last stop, and thought okay, we were good to go. I guess maybe earlier when people were starting to save fuel and play back strategy from the end of the race. We knew it could come to us. Front lap 20, we knew we had a good car. We just had to keep it under us and be smart with it. Make it better the whole race rather than dialing it out, and we were able to do that. And, we had four really good, clean pit stops. I know the No. 9 (Scott Dixon) and the No. 10 (Dario Franchitti) were right there as well.  I didn’t realize that Dario had gotten past Will (Power) for third until maybe a lap to go. Dario got a run on me, but wasn’t able to make anything happen, but my spotter was saying ‘The No. 10 car coming’, and I was thinking it was the No. 12 car, how did that happen?  I didn’t know it was going to be that good until a few laps from the end.”

I SAW A SPECIAL PIECE ON A NASCAR DRIVER WITH DIABETES AND DIDN’T UNDERSTAND THE MECHANISM – A SPOT ON HIS UNIFORM THAT LOOKED LIKE A BULLSEYE – THEY USE TO MONITOR HIM, CAN YOU EXPLAIN DIFFERENCES? “I talked to Ryann (Reed) this week. We were both down at a Children with Diabetes conference in Orlando. It is an annual event. They bring young children with diabetes; their friends; their families. They do specific sessions of parents, grandparents, friends; all sorts of activities. There are patient ambassadors; Ironman Jake Hewitt; football player Kendal Simmons; cross country skier Chris Freeman. In the past they have had the Jonas brother that has diabetes come down and speak. I was there doing a couple of different events on Wednesday, and I was talking with Ryan a little bit about it.  He wears a similar system to me in that he wears a continuous monitor so he can keep track of his blood glucose level, a lot like I do. His is a little different because it is mounted on the cockpit dash because they (NASCAR) don’t allow any telemetry or computing during races. Where with mine, it is integrated with the telemetry. So not only can I see it on my electronic dash, but the engineers are able to keep track of it. I think him what they were talking about with his suit is. If the sugars got out of control, and he needed an insulin injection that would be the area in which he would be able to metabolize it, and make an impact so it wouldn’t hold him back. Fortunately, knock on wood, everything I have had in the last five years of racing with diabetes, I have never needed insulin during the race. I’m set up in case my sugars go the other way,  and my blood glucose goes the other way and goes lower, I’m set-up with a drink bottle with orange juice in it so I can get some carbohydrates back into my  system and bring my sugars up so I don’t have to stop. But again, I’ve never needed the orange juice during a race to treat a low blood sugar. The idea is that if you keep it within that range, then you don’t need either carbohydrates or insulin.”