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Apr 10, 2013 - 03:00 PM
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From One Extreme to the Other for Hinchcliffe
Posted by: BGerhart on Apr 10, 2013 - 02:59 PM
Feature Articles
From One Extreme to the Other for Hinchcliffe

By Brad Gerhart

The 2013 IZOD IndyCar season opened on the right foot for Canadian James Hinchcliffe. It produced his very first major open wheel victory in his 30 start IndyCar career, his second full-season with Andretti Autosport.

Now, fast forward two weeks to the ever challenging Honda Grand Prix of Alabama and a severely different outcome for the GoDaddy.com driver.

For Hinchcliffe his troubles began in qualifying when the slower car of Penske’s Will Power impeded the No.27 Chevrolet on a hot lap. At the time a frustrated Hinchcliffe stated his opinion on the matter on television saying (but not saying) the move was down on purpose by Power. However, Power contacted Hinchcliffe later in the evening, stated his version of the incident and the two mutually put the situation behind them.

Unfortunately for Hinchcliffe he qualified way back on the 10th row in 20th, whereas Power occupied the spot on the front row beside pole winner Scott Dixon. Hinchcliffe’s bad weekend luck continued as once again he found himself at the wrong place at the wrong time.


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On the initial lap of the 90 lap event the back of the field impatiently sped through the tight corners of the Alabama track and contact between Oriol Servia and Graham Rahal sent Servia’s car into Hinchcliffe which damaged his rear frame. “We had problems in practice, obviously the issue we had in qualifying, and then got hit on the first lap of the race,” Hinchcliffe said.

At the time the contact did not appear to be too bad for Hinchcliffe, until his car stalled going up a hill and the St. Pete’s race winner found himself idling backwards down the hill and behind the safety wall around turn 3 with the help of the IndyCar safety team.

Hinchcliffe patiently sat in his car as he awaited a caution to get back to the pits to allow his Andretti Autosport team to make the required adjustments to get him back out on track. Ironically enough not a single caution flag waved throughout the remainder of the event. Once the race past lap 50 there would be no reason for Hinchcliffe to get back onto the track, due to the scoring system. “It sucked to have to sit there - praying for a yellow, staying in the car, hoping we'd get the car back to the pits and maybe salvage a position or two,” said Hinchcliffe. “But ultimately it didn't work out for us; just one more thing that didn't fall our way this weekend.”

Instead of being angry over the weekend Hinchcliffe remained positive and looks forward to the third race of the season at the historic street circuit of Long Beach. “We kind of laugh it off because there's nothing else you can do at this point,” he said.

After he led the points championship for the first time of his young career Hinchcliffe fell to fifth after his last place (26th) finish at Alabama. He’s now 23 back of new points leader Helio Castroneves who had a podium third. Another start towards the back could seriously hurt Hinchcliffe with the tight street corners of Long Beach. Passing opportunities more than likely will be few and far between.

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