Charlie Kimball was lucky to emerge unscathed after a frightening high-speed crash during qualifying for the penultimate round of this year’s IndyCar Series season, the Pocono 500.
After going fastest in Saturday’s opening practice session, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver was considered a favourite to claim pole position for the 500-mile race around the 2.5-mile tri-oval.
But on his sole qualifying attempt, the American lost the back end of his car through Turn 3 and spun hard into the outside wall. His Dallara DW12 Chevrolet became momentarily airborne and flew into the catch fencing before coming to a stop at the exit of the corner.
Incredibly he was able to emerge from his badly damaged car with little more than bruising to one hand a small cut on his chin which required a couple of stitches.
“When you’re this ugly to start with, it’s hard to do much damage!” – Kimball’s assessment of his minor injuries
“The car was giving me lot of confidence into Turn 1. The balance wasn’t exactly what I wanted and I think I got a little caught-out by the wind. I don’t know if it was track conditions or car setup, but we’ll look at it and be better because of it,” he later reflected.
The American also praised the safety of the latest-generation IndyCar chassis, as well as the circuit’s safety barriers for reducing his potential injuries.
“It’s one of the great things about what we do in IndyCar – we’re leading in safety. The cars are really safe, the SAFER Barrier did its job,” he added.
The qualifying session was delayed for almost an hour while Kimball and his car were removed from the circuit and the damaged barriers could be replaced.
Pole position in the session ultimately went to Hélio Castroneves, who led a Team Penske 1-2-3 in qualifying ahead of teammates Simon Pagenaud and Will Power. Their championship-leading teammate Juan Pablo Montoya qualified a lowly 19th.
Image and video via IndyCar Series