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May 19, 2014 - 06:14 PM
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Hinchcliffe Misses out on Indy 500 Pole, Villeneuve and Tagliani Qualify Near Back
Posted by: BGerhart on May 19, 2014 - 06:13 PM
Feature Articles
Hinchcliffe Misses out on Indy 500 Pole, Villeneuve and Tagliani Qualify Near Back

By Brad Gerhart

He simply knew it.

Even though Canadian James Hinchcliffe momentarily stood on the pole for the famed Indy 500 race, the Oakville Ontario native, felt he left a little bit out on the two and a half mile oval for 2013 pole winner Ed Carpenter.

“That one is going to haunt me. its probably going to be another second place for me,” said during his television interview after he climbed out of his No.27 United Fiber Data Honda.

Hinchcliffe's average speed of 230.839 MPH held up against Helio Castroneves (230.649 MPH) and last year's Indy 500 rookie of the year, Carols Munoz (230.146 MPH), which left Carpenter, the Indiana native as the only driver left of the 33 car field to oust Hinchcliffe of his first career Indy pole.


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After Carpenter's first lap time put him fourth fastest, it looked as though Hinchcliffe would become only the second Canadian to win the prestigious Indy pole. (Alex Tagliani who starts 24th this year won the award back in 2012). Miraculously, unlike nearly the entire field, Carpenter's lap speed actually improved after the first lap. Once the No.20 Fuzzy's Vodka Chevrolet went across the famed brick finish line of Indy his speed bettered that of Hinchcliffe's by 0.228 MPH with a 231.067 MPH average lap speed through four laps.

And yes “The Mayor of Hinchtown” knew exactly where he lost speed and time that ultimately left him off the pole.

“Going into Turn 3 on that last lap, I was working on the tools like crazy and the thing stepped out a bit on entry. I had to take some wheel out of it, creating under-steer on exit and I had to crack the throttle. I was screaming in my helmet. At the same time, if the worst we're going to start is second, then that's awesome,” said Hinchcliffe. “Huge credit to Andretti Autosport and United Fiber & Data. I'm so happy to be on the front row again, just so disappointed we missed it again, but it is what it is.”

Now, the two will once again begin the most famous race in the world, side-by-side on the front row, this time around with current points leader, Will Power on the outside of row one. A week ago at the inaugural IndyCar Grand Prix of Indianapolis, Hinchcliffe suffered a concussion when a piece of front win struck him in the front part of his helmet. Due to the injury he was not cleared to drive until Thursday (May 15th), which meant that he had to rely heavily on his Andretti Autosport teammates for setup information going into the every so stressful weekend qualifying sessions.

As young boy Hinchcliffe's earliest memory of racing ironically enough was of fellow Canadian Jacques Villeneuve historic Indy 500 win, back in 1995. The former F1 champion qualified 27th in his first ever Indy 500 race since his famed win, nearly 20 years ago. "The '95 car was edgy. I wasn't flat out on the four laps. There was more horsepower so you were a little bit more on the ragged edge,” said Villeneuve. “Now, it's more of a question of momentum. The speeds are similar but it drives differently. I love driving at these speeds, that's what I was born to do."

Tagliani, now a full-time driver on the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1, qualified 24th in a Honda under Sarah Fisher-Hartman Racing. The energetic Canadian was quite happy for his teammate Josef Newgarden who made the Fast Nine and qualified eighth, but felt he has a little more to give, come race day on his No.68 car. “I am really sad for the crew. They deserve better and I am going to be on a mission for the race. That is the only thing that matters,” Tagliani said.

The 98th running of the Indy 500 begins next Sunday, May 25th, where James Hinchcliffe hopes to be the seventh driver out of the past nine races to win from Indy's front row, or the 44th in the race's unmatched history to bring home a victory from row one.

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