Don't let his 19th-place starting position fool you, because Charlie Kimball believes he is a legitimate contender for the Indianapolis 500.
In fact, Kimball says to disregard the overall qualifying efforts of all four Team Ganassi cars, which were led by Scott Dixon (P16) and anchored by Ryan Briscoe (P23). They have spent the entire month of May focusing on their race-day setups in an effort to win the Indy 500 for the second year in a row.
Dario Franchitti and Dixon took the top two spots in last year's race.
"We've had a good month," Kimball told SB Nation by phone on Wednesday afternoon. "We've focused on our race-day setups in practice and Fast Friday getting rained out didn't give us a chance to focus on single-car runs."
Kimball says the decision to only focus on race-day engineering stemmed from last year, where a similar approach led to success. Three of the four Ganassi cars ran in the top five for much of the second half of the race.
"That decision really paid off," Kimball said. "We've tried to run in traffic as much as possible with our teammates this week, as well as in different weather conditions. We're trying to get ahead of every possible situation that could present itself on race day and did much of that work on Bump Day (Sunday) too."
Chip Ganassi Racing employed this tactic because they believe the seven-plus days of practice allows all 33 cars to get to the same speeds and tenth of a second. For Kimball and his crew, ignoring qualifying to the degree they did was just an attempt to pick up the pace for race day.
"Indianapolis comes down to teams attacking the same concepts in different ways but ultimately reaching the same lap times," Kimball said. "As a result, it has become a race track that rewards patience."
Now in his third season in the IndyCar Series, Kimball feels as though Sunday represents his best opportunity yet to win the Indianapolis 500, as well as the season championship.
"I really do think so," he said. "It's our third year together and second in the new chassis, so we needed to start showing improvement and we have. We're better prepared to get results this year and I'm more confident in my own ability to get it done. I truly believe that confidence will propel us up the grid later this year."
Kimball believes that only a pit-road mistake or accident on the track separates him from the Borg-Warner Trophy on Sunday afternoon.
"I have the utmost confidence in our pit crew," Kimball said. "We made it into the pit crew competition [Friday, NBC Sports Network] with the second fastest time and I think we can pick off a few spots that way on Sunday. Those guys can do the job and we just need a clean first half under green and keep working through the field."