INDIANAPOLIS — After a one-year part-time schedule in 2019, Charlie Kimball is back to a full time gig for the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season. Kimball, 34, will drive the No. 4 Chevrolet for the famed AJ Foyt Racing team this upcoming season. The move was made official on Wednesday.
While AJ Foyt Racing has had some lean years recently, the move back to a full time slate with them is better than a part time role with someone else says Kimball. That’s not meant as a slight in any way towards his new team either. Team President Larry Foyt agrees with the assessment as they haven’t been as good recently as they would have liked to be.
But, with some new engineers and having a driver like Kimball now as a part of the team, Foyt hopes the recent years are the ground floor in what is hopefully their last rebuilding effort.
In terms of Kimball, he couldn’t stomach another year where he was in and out of a seat. While he was happy to be racing in 2019, it wasn’t to the capacity to where he hoped.
“I think that myself, I would not have survived — and I’m not sure my marriage would have survived — another year on a partial schedule because it was really tough on me last year watching in races when I wasn’t in the car,” Kimball said.
Another aspect for Kimball in a part-time role vs. a full-time opportunity is just the weekly rhythm of being in the car. It’s your ride. You’re not sharing it with anyone else. Whenever that car is on track, you’re in it.
Last year, was the first time in his career that he ran a part time schedule. The California native contested in just 7 of the 17 races. While he did score two top 10 results, both being 10th place runs, the other five races saw him finish 15th or worse. While Carlin, the team Kimball was racing for, was still trying to find their footing in the series and struggling a bit, Kimball credits some of his results to being rusty.
“I think the consistency of being in the car every weekend allows me to stay in the rhythm,” Kimball continued. “I noticed last year, when I was out of the car for a couple of races and I got back in, it took a moment or two to knock some of that rust off. My competitors, the other drivers in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, weekend in, weekend out, are in the car, and they’re in that rhythm and that mode. The level of competition in INDYCAR is so high that any drawback, any moment it takes to get back up to speed puts you a long ways behind.”
Kimball, said the main goal for him in 2020 is to get him back into victory lane as well as the team. The last either has won a race was in 2013 with Kimball at Mid-Ohio and Foyt at Long Beach with Takuma Sato.
“My goal is to do everything I can, work with the team, and take A.J. Foyt Racing back to victory lane,” Kimball said of his goals for 2020. “It’s been since 2013 when Takuma Sato won at Long Beach, I believe, was one of the last INDYCAR victories for A.J. Foyt Racing. My last INDYCAR victory was Mid-Ohio in 2013, and our goal is to get back running up front weekend in, weekend out, and figure out how we get more consistent with being up front.
“I think it’s nice to have flash results and one good result here and there, but it’s even more important that you run consistently in the top ten. So then you’re running consistently in the top five. Once you’re consistently in the top five, you’re on the podium and fighting for race wins. And in my case, that’s my goal. We’re not there to finish second. I’m not there to finish second at any weekend, at any session, any lap.”
This isn’t the first new team like atmosphere that Kimball has endured. In his first season in Indy Car, Kimball was a part of the Chip Ganassi Racing organization. That was the first year too that CGR expanded from a two car outfit to four. Then, in 2018, Kimball joined Carlin which was Carlin’s first season in Indy Car in general. Now, he’s part of a rebuilding effort at Foyt for 2020. Does his past experiences help here?
“I think so,” Kimball said. “I think all of my experience, if it’s the first year as part of an extension at Chip Ganassi Racing or as an INDYCAR entrance with Carlin Racing, being able to rely on that experience is helpful for sure. But at the same time, A.J. Foyt Racing, one of the reasons I wanted to be a part of their program this year is they know what they’re doing. They’re winners. They’re 500 winners. The team is founded and owned and started by the first four-time winner of the Indianapolis 500. That history just doesn’t go away in a couple of less than ideal seasons.
“So being able to work with their history and their abilities and hopefully bring some of my experience to bear as we work towards getting back to the results we want as a team is very important and something I’m really looking forward to.”
The No. 4 car will carry a Novo Nordisk branded livery for six races: Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, GMR Grand Prix (Indianapolis), Texas Indy 600 (Ft. Worth), Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at Gateway (Madison, Ill.) and the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey. Novo Nordisk will be an associate marketing partner in the remaining 11 races.
“I’m excited and honored to join AJ Foyt Racing and be a part of a team that has such deep roots in history at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar,” said Kimball, who lives in Indianapolis. “Continuing the partnership with Novo Nordisk is also special since they have been an integral part of my career since I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I’m more motivated than ever to work with the team to succeed at every IndyCar race in 2020. Thank you to AJ Foyt Racing, Novo Nordisk and our other partners for this opportunity.”
Kimball has posted six podium (top-3) finishes, and an additional eight top-5s. He has finished in the top-10 (6th through 10th) 41 times and has led 163 laps in 141 races.
“We are proud to continue our long-term partnership with Charlie Kimball and look forward to an exciting 2020 IndyCar season with the legendary AJ Foyt Racing,” said Brian Hilberdink, Senior Vice President, Commercial Diabetes at Novo Nordisk. “For more than a decade, we’ve utilized our involvement in IndyCar to share Charlie’s inspiring journey living with diabetes through the Race with Insulin initiative. Charlie is one of the most active ambassadors in the diabetes community and his passion and commitment to making a difference in the lives of those who are living with diabetes is unwavering. We look forward to continuing this tradition with AJ Foyt Racing, Charlie and the diabetes community throughout the IndyCar season.”