Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Season Review: Charlie Kimball

In a series of blogs that will be featured throughout the offseason, I review and talk about 21 full-time drivers in addition to extended part time drivers (Carpenter and Conway) in an honest and opinionated format. I would ask you to share your opinions on my thoughts as well as your thoughts on the driver and their season. Enjoy:

Charlie Kimball
#83 Novo Nordisk Ganassi Racing

14th in points scoring 402 points

Best finish: 3rd (Detroit Race #2)
Worst finish: 31st (Indianapolis)

Wins: 0
Poles: 0
Avg. Start: 16.3
Avg. Finish: 12.6
Change in position: 66

Grade: C

Charlie Kimball had a great 2013. I was a critic of him, as he had two very poor years to start his Indycar career (keep in mind that he's only driver for Chip Ganassi Racing), but 2013 looked like a new Charlie was rising out of the frame, finishing 9th in the championship while also notching his first career win at Mid-Ohio.

So after his best season, I expected a lot out of Charlie for the 2014 season. What did we get? 14th place in the standings. 14th. The only thing more underwhelming than his championship standing was his qualifying performances. CK was bogged down many times this season due to an inability to string together a solid qualifying effort. He did manage four top-five finishes, including a podium at Detroit Race #2. And he finished all but two races, an impressive stat.

But the problem with Kimball's season was that he either finished in the top-ten, or he came out of the race weekend salvaging little points. His non-top-ten finishing races included 20th (St. Pete), 23rd (Long Beach), 31st (Indianapolis), 18th (Houston Race #1), 17th (Pocono), 16th (Milwaukee), 21st (Sonoma), and 12th (Fontana). Crunching the numbers, Charlie's average point haul from the ten top-tens finishes was 26 points per race, which is what you get for finishing 7th. Charlie's average point haul for races he finished outside the top-ten was 17.3 points per race, which is what you get for finishing 13th. But that deserves an asterisk, because included in his non-top-ten finishes were all three triple crown races that fetch double points. At IMS, he got 25 points, largely from the qualifying bonus since he finished  31st and got a measly point. At Pocono, Charlie crossed the line in 17th but scored 26 points. At Fontana, he finished 12th and got 36 points.

So, in theory, double points saved Charlie from having a disastrous championship result. Without the double points and the Indianapolis qualifying bonus, Charlie would have averaged 10.5 points in the eight races he finished outside the top-ten in, or somewhere in between 19th and 20th place on the points scale. So, what this all means is Charlie Kimball is either feast or famine, good or bad. In order for Charlie to make a serious run at the championship, he will need to: a) limit the attrition b) finish in the top-ten c) qualify better, especially on road courses and d) get more podiums. If a couple of these goals are not met, then I'm afraid Charlie Kimball will only be remembered as the driver for the powerhouse team Chip Ganassi who fought the odds to race with diabetes and was nice to all his fans, but that's really it.

Charlie Kimball - ABC Supply Wisconsin 250: Day 2
Photo: Jeff Zelevansky / Getty Images North America

2014 grades so far:
Mike Conway - B+
Mikhail Aleshin - B
Charlie Kimball - C
Jack Hawksworth - C+
Justin Wilson - C+
Carlos Huertas - D
Graham Rahal - D
Takuma Sato - D
Sebastian Saavedra - F


Stay tuned for P13 Josef Newgarden!

-Matthew Hickey

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