Back in May, James Hinchcliffe failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500. It was one of the lowest points of his auto-racing career.
Sunday afternoon in the U.S. Midwest, Hinchcliffe won the Verizon IndyCar Series race at Iowa Speedway. It was his sixth career IndyCar win and couldn’t have come at a better time.
It shows that Hinchcliffe’s team, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, has officially bounced back from the Indy disaster. And the race next weekend is none other than the Honda Indy Toronto.
There is no doubt the Oakville native will have momentum going into what he considers his home race.
Hinchclife’s teammate, Robert Wickens of Guelph, finished fifth but could have been on the podium with the winner. Under caution, Wickens and second-place driver Josef Newgarden ducked into the pits with three laps to go for fresh tires because Race Control was planning a green-white-checkers finish. They roared out of the pits and slotted into the fourth and fifth places, only to have IndyCar allow the race to end under the yellow.
IndyCar president of competition Jay Frye explained that they hoped to get the race going again before the checkers but that track cleanup and a re-odering of the cars still on track took longer than expected and the race distance was reached before the green could fly again.
When Newgarden and Wickens went to the pits, Spencer Pigot and Takuma Sato moved into second and third and that`s where they finished.
“We didn’t qualify the best, but we had a good car, Hichcliffe said. “First stint was great, second stint we made a change and went a little too far, too far the other way, but (after) the next stop that Arrow Electronics car was a rocket ship.
“We had great battles with Spencer [Pigot] and Josef [Newgarden] at the end. Ultimately we made the right call (to stay out) . . . it would’ve been a disaster if it didn’t go green after taking tires. Taylor [Kiel], Todd [Malloy], Will [Anderson] my engineer, everyone on the stand: Kenny [Krajnik], [Craig] Luba, Nick [Snyder], everybody. This is just great. The guys were great in the pits.
“Honda power back on top and going into Toronto, I am just so stoked.”
Wickens indicated he was disappointed he didn’t finish third after a hard day at work.
“In the end it’s a great day: great day for Honda, great day for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports,“ he said. “Two cars in the top five. It should have been a double podium with the Lucas Oil car up there. There would have been nothing sweeter than to celebrate Hinch’s (James Hinchcliffe) win than being on the podium with him.”
The Honda Indy Toronto will take to the streets of Exhibition Place next Friday morning. Friday is Fan Friday, where admission is waived in return for a donation to Make-A-Wish Canada.
On Saturday, IndyCar qualifying will be followed by the Pinty`s Grand Prix of Toronto for the late-model NASCAR Pinty`s Series stock cars. Sunday, the Honda Indy will go to the post in mid-afternoon.