Mears slams Kimball for Power clash

Rick Mears has criticized Charlie Kimball for the incident that saw the Ganassi driver turn Will Power’s Penske car into the barriers at the top of the Esses at Watkins Glen during Sunday's penultimate IndyCar round of 2016.

Mears slams Kimball for Power clash
Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet
Charlie Kimball, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet
Charlie Kimball, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet
Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet
Charlie Kimball, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet

The four-time Indy 500 winner and three-time champion, who now works as a driver advisor at Team Penske and is spotter for Helio Castroneves, described Kimball forcing the issue in a closing gap as “stupid racecraft… or no racecraft.”

Mears told Motorsport.com: “If my front wing is barely alongside the other guy’s rear tire and I see he’s coming across to take the normal racing line, and catch the slipstream of the car in front, then I think, ‘What’s happening here? What should I do here?’” said Mears. He added sarcastically, “And that’s really a tough goddam decision to make, isn’t it?!”

He added: “I’m not saying Will’s completely blameless because he had a little hand in it too; he was focused ahead and wasn’t looking in his mirrors for Kimball there, and you’ve always got to protect yourself from the unexpected.

“But I don’t understand the reasoning of a guy behind who would keep heading into a gap that probably wasn’t big enough at the start and was obviously going to close as Will took the normal line through that corner.

“To me that was stupid racecraft… or no racecraft, because Kimball had as big a chance of taking himself out, too. But even removing your own interests from the situation, you’ve got to also think there’s a chance of hurting someone there, because that’s not a slow part of the track.”

Mears explained that going around the outside of a driver through that turn was a legitimate maneuver, as demonstrated successfully throughout the race – including by Kimball – whenever the drivers in front moved right to force their pursuers to go the long way around. However, Mears said the Ganassi car was nowhere near being far enough alongside the Penske car for Kimball to expect room or to claim the turn.

“Now if your front wing was there [Mears pointed at the front of the sidepod on Power’s car], then that’s a different matter. But there, [points to the rear wheelguard]? Give me a break!”

Kimball was deemed not at fault by Race Control, and went on to finish sixth. He also denied any wrongdoing in both the Power accident, and the earlier clash with Graham Rahal.

 

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