Just when you thought that the Verizon IndyCar Series had run out of ways to surprise, 2016 came along. The championship was won by a guy who looked all at sea 12 months earlier, his closest rival didn’t even participate in the first race, and the winner of the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 was a recent F1 refugee who apparently figured out how to make a car work without fuel.
Twenty-four drivers made at least three starts during the 2016 season, and each one is a story. Join RACER each day as we retrace their journeys.
NO. 83 CHIP GANASSI RACING CHEVROLET
2016 Best result: 5th (IMS road course; Indianapolis 500)
2016 Championship position: 9th (433 points)
Kimball equaled his career-best championship finish this year: ninth. Is there more to come?
MILLER: There could be, because surprising people appears to be Charlie’s forte. He wasn’t rated by many when he joined IndyCar and had that field-filler look the first two seasons before scoring his victory at Mid-Ohio. Qualifying can still be hit or miss (except at Mid-Ohio, where he’s always quick), but the guy always seems to go forward in the races. And those charges (16th to fifth at Indy 500, 16th to sixth at Texas and 14th to sixth at Watkins Glen), and keeping his nose relatively clean, are what propelled him into the Top 10. Getting higher than ninth might be a stretch – but maybe not.
PRUETT: It’s something I’ve started to wonder as well. Chuck has two ninth-place finishes in six seasons, he’s made progress – steady progress – since Dario Franchitti transitioned into his role as coach and analyst, and with a couple of years of intensive effort, Kimball has become a reliable performer. Eleven finishes inside the top 10 last season tells us this is true, but what we don’t know is if there’s significant speed still waiting to be unearthed.
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