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IndyCar’s James Hinchcliffe heads home to Canada
Question of the Day
But, Franchitti said, it’s up to Hinchcliffe alone to manage the pressure and not let it interfere with his performance or his approach to Sunday. He has been impressed with Hinchcliffe’s performance so far this season, and sees many similarities between Hinchcliffe and Moore.
“One thing I’ve learned about James, I think he’s very smart and he’ll treat it like any other race,” Franchitti said. “Obviously the next big break for James is winning an IndyCar race. He’s been very consistent and done a hell of a job, and I think as long as he treats this race like any other week, he’ll be just fine.
“As far as Greg, out of the car, Greg (had) that _ just that kind of crazy sense of humor and a really good person; and I see that from James, that connection with the fans. They definitely have that in common. I think a lot of that is the Canadian personality, as well. He’s a good guy and very, very impressive.”
Many people knew Hinchcliffe had a special presence outside the car and in front of the camera. But he’s shown this season he’s a special talent inside the car, too.
Hinchcliffe has finished lower than sixth just twice in nine races this season. He has two podium finishes, has led at least one lap in six races, started on the front row at the Indianapolis 500, and, until a pot hole in the track caused him to crash at Belle Isle last month, was the only driver in the series to complete every lap.
He rebounded from that 21st-place finish to finish fourth at Texas and third at Milwaukee.
That moved him to second in the IndyCar standings behind leader Will Power two weeks ago when they raced at Iowa, which turned out to be one of the more frustrating races of his career. He led 19 laps and was poised to tighten the points race after Power crashed, but he wrecked by himself 55 laps from the finish on a restart in which it was critical he and Andretti teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay not make contact with each other.
Belle Isle and the poor track conditions made him angry. Iowa still has him frustrated after a week off. The two races are the only blemishes on his season and, with different outcomes, he could be heading into Toronto as the points leader.
“On Iowa, I understand everybody makes mistakes in this sport and my philosophy is as long as you can learn something and grow from it, you’ll be fine,” he said. “What I’ve struggled with after Iowa is I don’t know why I wrecked, and that’s what bothers me. I am not saying it is not my fault, but I just don’t know what caused it and I can’t learn from that. If I was in the same situation today, I don’t know what I would do differently.
“And on Belle Isle, well, that one just makes me mad because it was avoidable. If you can do that race over again, you’d red flag that at lap 6 and go fix the track before you cheat me, and before you cheat the fans who got a shortened race because of the problems.”
Hinchcliffe went into Iowa trailing Power by 31 points. Although he has slipped to fifth, he is still only 30 points behind the leader and “in a weird, twisted way, we moved closer and the championship race is a lot tighter.”
He is still looking for his first IndyCar win, but team owner Michael Andretti believes it is coming soon.
“He’s right there, right on the verge of getting that first win, and when he gets it, I really believe it’s going to open the gates and he’ll starting winning a lot of races,” Andretti said.
Hinchcliffe knows there will be hometown fans hoping that win comes Sunday at Toronto, where he’ll be racing for the sixth time spanning three different series. He first attended the event as a baby with his family and could finally be its star attraction with Toronto-native Tracy _ the popular “Thrill From West Hill” _ not competing for the first time since his 1992 debut.
In Hinchcliffe’s first appearance at the track, in 2006, he tried to accommodate every request and realized afterward that he done “way too much.” Back this year in a much more high-profile role, he’s worked hard to make it a normal event.
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