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INDYCAR MEDIA CONFERENCE
May 16, 2016
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome. Today we want to share some news about the Novo Nordisk-Chip Ganassi Racing team's plans for this year's historic Indianapolis 500. Our participants include Charlie Kimball, Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi, and Michael Bachner.
A couple interesting factoids before we begin. It's the sixth year of the partnership between Chip Ganassi Racing teams, Novo Nordisk and Charlie Kimball. It's the eighth year of the relationship with Novo Nordisk and Charlie Kimball as a driver.
Charlie is the first licensed driver in IndyCar to win a race, the most elite level of the series, as an individual with diabetes, and the first licensed IndyCar driver to start in the Indianapolis 500 with diabetes.
Last year, you might recall, he finished in the third position. An awfully good finish obviously, one he could be very proud of.
He's led laps in his second season in 2012 and again last year.
Charlie, we've already had you in the press conference room. That is always a good thing. Welcome back with some exciting news.
CHARLIE KIMBALL: Thank you. It's always great to be here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, especially this year, the importance of the hundredth running of the Indianapolis 500.
Having run the No. 83 car since I started in the IndyCar Series, because of Chip's history as a driver here at the Indianapolis 500, and my dad's as an engineer from Chip's result in 1983, it's exciting to announce this year for the Indianapolis 500 only, we're going to be running the No. 42 car. That's a big connection to Tresiba, a new medication that I've been taking since just after Christmas. It's long acting in duration. Once you've been taking it for eight days, it lasts in your body for at least 42 hours.
And the connection to Kyle and all of Chip Ganassi Racing, a big thank you to Chip and his team for allowing us to change the number for this race and working with Novo Nordisk.
The partnership with Novo Nordisk, I use 'partnership' there as a key word, it's more than a sponsorship, they make products and delivery devices I use every day to manage my diabetes, a big part of my daily lifestyle.
It's a way to honor our relationship with Novo Nordisk with Chip Ganassi Racing, having that number on Kyle's NASCAR, as well as we're going to honor the diabetes community with 42 names of influential people within the diabetes community on the car all month long.
So from people, a Novo Nordisk group, including the group of individuals that helped spearhead the development of the Tresiba molecule, to different diabetes organizations, the ADA, JDRS, the Endocrine Society, as well as different ambassadors, people I work with: Jay Hewitt, the Ironman, Kendall Simmons, two-time Super Bowl champion with diabetes, Lightning Lou Brock, other ambassadors, as well as the diabetes online community that keep that conversation about diabetes fresh: our daily reminder that people with diabetes aren't alone, there are other people out there that are helping and influencing that conversation.
So we will return to the No. 83 car for the Chevy Duel in Detroit at the end of the month of May. But for this month we are really excited to run the No. 42. A big thank you to Kyle for lending me the number and helping me to share that story.
I'd like to introduce Kyle. I don't know if anyone else watched the NASCAR race yesterday from Dover, but I was on the edge of my seat jumping up and down. If anybody was the star of that race, it was Kyle in the 42 car.
I don't know if you heard it from there, but there were a lot of people here in Indianapolis cheering loudly for you. Well done and congratulations.
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, thanks a lot. It was fun yesterday. Would have liked to have been one slot better, be more excited to be here. It's cool to be here and support Charlie and Novo, see him get to run the 42 car for the Indy 500. It's going to be such a special event with the hundredth running of it.
Yeah, it's going to be fun to cheer him on as well as all the other Chip Ganassi teammates. My cousin is a Type 1 diabetic. I believe his name will also be on the car. That's pretty special to myself and my family. Gives me more reason to cheer on Charlie.
So he's had good runs here in the past. Hopefully he can get a couple spots better than he was last year, and it would be neat to see him in Victory Lane.
Wish I could be a part of it. Maybe talk Chip into letting me get out there for rookie orientation (laughter).
No, it's just cool to be here. I came here for opening day I remember in 2011 when it was my first year racing USAC stuff. It was a really cool feeling. Then got to come here for the race in 2013.
Like I said, just going to be a lot of fun to cheer on all the teammates, especially Charlie, and hoping for good results.
THE MODERATOR: Chip, as a former racer, as a car owner, you know the vital nature of sponsorship, and good sponsors. I can always think about this. It was kind of a blustery, cold day when we came in and introduced the relationship between you and Charlie Kimball. It's been in so many ways a very fruitful relationship.
CHIP GANASSI: It has. It obviously goes back to the relationship I had with Charlie and his father. Obviously everybody knows the story of Gordon, his father, who designed the Wildcat that I drove in 1983. Obviously worked with him for many years. That's sort of how the 83 came along.
Now we're looking at Charlie's sixth year with the team. Couldn't be happier with how he's doing. He's stepped it up a little bit this year. As you can see, he's certainly up higher in the points than he's ever been, running more consistently at the front. That's huge.
I think the important thing to remember about Charlie, all race drivers prepare for races one way or another. I think Charlie, with the added issue of Type 1 diabetes on his shoulders, I have to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, it's sort of seamless to me. If he wouldn't have told me that Charlie was a Type 1 diabetic on day one the relationship, I don't think I would know.
I've never seen a performance issue. I've never seen anything really. I think that's a testament to Novo Nordisk and the type of products that are out there today for athletes and for people. That's certainly not the issue that it was maybe years ago certainly for athletes.
Charlie has become a great spokesman, because of that, for the diabetes community. As we're here again for the hundredth running, it speaks volumes when you have this kind of partner in the sport. That's no small point that I think everybody needs to keep in mind.
To give Charlie the 42 car today, to run here with Tresiba, I think it's a big step. When I first heard about changing the number, I thought, Why the hell we changing the number (laughter)? Literally, it stays in your system for 42 hours, which was, I don't know, ironic in some sense. It makes for a nice story here this morning. I'm happy to do it.
We're looking forward to it. Looking forward to the hundredth running. Looking forward to these guys having a good month of May wherever they're racing and glad to have the relationship.
THE MODERATOR: Michael, I will draw upon my own real world work. Research indicates that by 2020 48% of Americans will deal with some form of chronic healthcare condition. That number jumps up to 98% with older adults.
Clearly in terms of just quality of life and also in terms of healthcare costs, we have to learn to effectively manage healthcare conditions. That requires tools, it requires people to understand what they need to do to manage those conditions.
One of the key links is to have someone like a Charlie Kimball who can spread that message in a variety of forms. This strikes me as a win-win not just for racing but for society as a whole.
MICHAEL BACHNER: Absolutely. What Charlie brings to the diabetes community, his inspiration, empowerment, what his message is across the board, is something that we at Novo Nordisk are just so, so proud of, so excited about the long history of this partnership.
We've been working with Charlie for eight years, with Chip and the team for six. It's an honor to be sitting here next to these guys, legends in the sport, and be able to spread a really unique message and a really important message, as you mentioned, about the importance of managing your chronic conditions.
What Tresiba brings to those with diabetes, the ability to inject just once a day, to have the ability to take your insulin at any time of day is really something special and an advancement in healthcare that we've been looking for for a long time in the diabetes space.
Having Charlie out there racing, having Kyle sitting here next to us supporting us and lending us his number, we're really appreciative of the work with Chip and the team for six years. It's just been incredible.
The ability to get out there and spread the message of the importance of managing your diabetes, the importance of Tresiba, the special attributes that it brings to people with diabetes is really awesome for us. We're just so happy we have this platform that Charlie can speak to the diabetes community and inspire folks.
The 42 people on the car, it's just really cool. We have a lot of people out there that are really excited about this, from Kyle's cousin, to the folks at Novo Nordisk in Denmark who have helped create the Tresiba molecule, our other ambassadors, organizations.
It's really an opportunity to honor those and to continue to spread the message on the importance of managing your diabetes, the importance of managing a chronic condition, and the special attributes that Tresiba brings to the market.
We as a company are proud to use IndyCar and Chip Ganassi to spread that message. It's a really special time for us and we're really excited to be here.
THE MODERATOR: Michael, would you concur with me that one of the messages we're trying to get out there is Charlie is an individual with diabetes, he is not a diabetic; diabetes does not define his life.
MICHAEL BACHNER: Absolutely. I think that's the inspiration that Charlie gives to the community. It's that you don't have to let your diabetes get in the way of you pursuing your dreams.
Charlie, when he was diagnosed, he can tell you the story better than I can, when he was diagnosed, all he wanted to do was to get back in the racecar, what was it going to take. He was able to do it, able to do it successfully at the most elite level of the sport, really show people that diabetes can be managed with the proper education, with the proper medication, with the proper tools.
You really can achieve what you want to achieve, whether that's being a racecar driver, a doctor, an attorney, a reporter. Whatever that is, you can really achieve those dreams with diabetes.
THE MODERATOR: Chip, you demonstrated there's a lot of loyalty in terms of your sponsors and race teams. This seems to have been a great partnership in so many ways.
CHIP GANASSI: It has. It has. Obviously we're going to have the Tresiba name on Kyle's car as well at Charlotte. That's one small benefit of having a great team of partners and drivers. Makes for some nice partnerships, if you will.
THE MODERATOR: Nice to have drivers who can win, too.
CHIP GANASSI: Yes, it is. That helps (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead with questions.
Q. Is Tresiba a new product or has it only just been cleared for sports use once you checked there were no kind of side effects?
MICHAEL BACHNER: Tresiba was approved by the FDA at the end of 2015 in September. We launched the product to healthcare professionals in January. We actually launched to consumers in April.
You saw the Tresiba No. 83 was unveiled at the Phoenix International Speedway back on April 2nd, which was 4.2 actually. So the product was made available to consumers at that point.
It is indicated for patients with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. So it doesn't have a specific sports indication. It is just indicated for people with diabetes.
Q. Charlie, how do you approach any kind of race, not even this one? Is there a medical checkup after qualifying, before or after a race? When you got diagnosed with the diabetes, what were the symptoms? You had pain, you were exhausted?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: When I was diagnosed, I went into the doctor for an unrelated skin rash, but mentioned that I'd been really thirsty, drinking eight or ten bottles of water a night. I'd lost 25 pounds in just five days. But I didn't realize it, my blood sugar was so high, mentally was so unfocused.
My blood sugar was five or six times what it should have been. At that point he sent me to an endocrinologist specialist. I joke that's when my relationship with Novo Nordisk first started, using a NovoPen and Novo Nordisk insulin. So from that day forward, I knew their name. They didn't know about me until a couple years later.
As far as race preparation, I do the same thing that all the other drivers do. I just work my diabetes management into that daily routine. I'm always in contact with my doctor. She and I have a continuous conversation via text and email. She gets all of my data, my blood sugar logs from race day, as well as comments on how I was feeling, meals I ate, that sort of thing.
Having a team like Chip Ganassi Racing behind me has helped, because the hospitality unit that cooks for the team has been able to really regiment my food and my nutrition down to what I need and work with my nutritionist, work with my doctor to be able to come up with a plan.
Just like the mechanics prepare the racecar and put their fantastic diligence into making sure it's as prepared as possible, I can apply that same preparation to my body as an athlete.
As well, my endocrinologist, Dr. Peters, my diabetes educator, Donna, both of their names are on the racecar as well. It will be neat to carry them with me this month.
Q. Charlie, I have a brother that has diabetes, late in life. Swollen legs and all that. Do you feel fortunate when you have the disease? The developments weren't there when he came down with it, but helped you.
CHARLIE KIMBALL: I do feel strongly, I'm almost fortunate to have been diagnosed. I think the diabetes community is one of the strongest in the world. I realize I'm biased as a member of that community and a patient myself.
The online community is overwhelming in their support of all the ambassadors within it. To be able to reach that community with the insulin program, with the developments that Novo Nordisk has spearheaded, they've been in diabetes care for over 90 years. To see them go from the original treatment of diabetes to take care of one of the founder's wives who got diagnosed, that's how the company started, taking care of somebody they loved with diabetes. I think that care for the community carries through.
In fact, as part of the 42 program for the month of May, they will make donations to the American Diabetes Association in the amount of $4,200 both here in Indianapolis and in Charlotte, North Carolina, in honor of the drivers leading lap number 42 at the Indianapolis 500 and at the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. You see that return to the diabetes community.
That comes from their care and their development of the products. 20 years ago, I'm not sure that the ability, the medications and the devices were there for me to safely and competitively be out there racing.
Q. Charlie, switching over to this new medicine, how has it benefited you in your lifestyle and time in the car? Do you have to take any other medications?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: I started on Tresiba just after Christmas. I like it, how it worked in my lifestyle. My previous insulin, I was taking twice a day. With Tresiba being once a day, it reduced an injection for me.
Secondarily, the ability to take it any time of day, as long as there has been eight hours since my last injection. With all the time zones we go through, racing in Phoenix, racing in Long Beach, going back to Indianapolis in the middle, those are three time zones in the span of about five days.
When I get up in the morning, if it's 6 a.m. like it was on race day, or 10 a.m. like it was yesterday morning when I was lazy and slept in, I can get up and take my Tresiba at that point and not really have to set my schedule around my diabetes management. It works more in my lifestyle.
So practically I've seen a benefit. I think I get better management because of that long duration of action.
I do take a fast-acting insulin, another Novo Nordisk insulins, NovoLog. The orange and blue car, the 83 car from the past couple of years, with the Novo FlexPen on it, I still use that insulin in combination with Tresiba at mealtimes.
Q. As far as I understand, your product is medicine against diabetes, is this correct?
MICHAEL BACHNER: For the treatment of high blood sugar related to diabetes, correct.
Q. Are you involved in other developments of medicines against other illnesses?
MICHAEL BACHNER: Yes. Although we're primarily focused on diabetes, we have a bio-pharmaceutical division, where we work focus on rare blood disorders like hemophilia. We also have an organization dedicated to the treatment of obesity, as well. We do as an organization really focus on chronic conditions, but do have a bio-pharmaceutical division as well as an obesity division.
Q. I don't know if this is the time or place to ask this. But Chip and Kyle, given your last two races, do you think the team has turned the corner?
KYLE LARSON: I definitely think we've made some big improvements over the last month or so. We started off the year pretty poorly at the first couple mile-and-a-half's. We made a small step and got a little bit better. Then I think the last couple races we made pretty big gains. Been happy about that.
Just got to keep working hard. The changes are so frequently, it's hard to keep up with it. So, yeah, we just got to stay on top of the ever-changing garage area there, just try and stay competitive.
Been really proud of everybody at the race shop for working hard, staying positive. It's starting to show in some results.
CHIP GANASSI: You used the phrase 'turn the corner.' I think you understand, things are so close in racing today, you don't have to be very far off with your car to be very off on the stopwatch. Everything is such a matter of 10ths and 100ths of a second.
I wouldn't characterize it as 'turn the corner,' it's just a culmination of hard work by everybody to a point where we think we're closer to the sweet spot right now.
Q. Chip, when you hired him as a driver, what were your thoughts in regards to his situation?
CHIP GANASSI: That's a good question. As I said earlier, I'd heard about it. I was kind of like, Hmm.
It's been seamless. I don't even know that it exists. Like I said earlier, I don't see any performance loss or anything outside the norm. I don't really treat Charlie any differently than I do any of the other drivers.
I don't see any change in the daily schedule of the racing team or the car or the mechanics or whatever, how they have to assist Charlie any differently than they do any of the other drivers. It's seamless in terms of the team.
Q. Kyle, NASCAR, 30 races, do you have time to run the dirt track stuff in America?
KYLE LARSON: Sprint car? Luckily or thankfully Chip lets me do some dirt track racing stuff.
CHIP GANASSI: From time to time (laughter).
KYLE LARSON: Mostly in the off-season.
This year I'll get to run a little bit more than I have in the past. Happy about that.
But, yeah, I'm focused on Cup races. We've been close a handful of times. The Cup Series is way tougher than I thought it would ever be and takes more focus than I ever thought it would take. Trying to stay focused on that. Feel like we've been gaining on it recently.
Just keep working hard.
Q. Kyle, anytime we have a NASCAR driver here, we're obligated to ask them would they consider driving in the 500. You have open-wheel experience.
KYLE LARSON: I would love to. I was always a big Indianapolis fan growing up. I think mainly because my dad is a huge Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar fan.
To me, I think this is the biggest race in the world by far. Yeah, I would love to race it someday, you know, be driving for Chip Ganassi Racing. He's got so many different types of vehicles, you hopefully get the opportunity to run someday.
Been lucky enough to run in the Rolex 24 Hour race and win that. It would be incredible just to start the 500 someday in my future. But it's more up to the guy to my left than me.
He's been a great car owner for me. Hopefully someday, after I win a Cup race, two, or three, a championship, I can run the Indianapolis 500.
Q. What will the aesthetics of the car be with the 42 names added? Will it be the same colors?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: I think the car is outside for photos afterwards. It will have the number 42 instead of 83. The same colors, the same Tresiba branding. Outside the door before where the logo has been, I think there will be half of the names on each side of the car. It will be very prominent with those 42 names on the car.
In fact, for just about the only time in my career, I'm going to change my helmet colors to match the car. So it will be a matte black and green, Tresiba green, on my helmet for the month of May only. It will be kind of a one-off, like the number will be, as well.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, guys.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports