(ST PETERSBURG, FL) – With the first race of the 2017 IndyCar series in the books, Canada’s James Hinchcliffe finds himself on the points board, but with room to improve.
The Oakville native qualified third with a speed of 105.703mph, however finished ninth in the 21-car grid. It seems reminiscent of his 2014 season when high qualifications didn’t translate into top-5 finishes.
“Honestly a pretty disappointing result,” Hinchcliffe said after Sunday’s race. “We started on the inside of Row 2, got a good start and slipped into second. Did well on the restart and led pretty much the entire first stint. We had a bit of a tire advantage; we started on the sticker Firestone reds, other guys were on used tires, but from there everything kind of unraveled.”
— James Hinchcliffe (@Hinchtown) March 11, 2017
Hinchcliffe had high hopes after good practice runs and a top-3 qualifying.
“Obviously starting off the season strong is huge,” he said. “Momentum in this sport, and any sport really, is a key to success, and winning the first one and getting off to that strong start always makes you feel good and keeps the team in the right state of mind.”
Not our day! Poorly timed yellow cost us big time in track position. From there we lost some pace, but a lot to build on for Long Beach.
— James Hinchcliffe (@Hinchtown) March 12, 2017
The 2013 winner at St Petersburg started in the 3rd position, his best starting spot in six races on the 1.8 mile temporary street circuit.
“The yellow caught us off guard; a bunch of the guys behind us had already pitted, so that kind of put us behind the eight ball,” said Hinchcliffe. “As the race went on, the track wasn’t coming to us as it normally does, so unfortunately it all kind of went wrong for us after the start.”
After the early restart, Hinchcliffe led 21 laps of the 110-lap race. There were also good take-aways for the driver and his crew.
”A lot to be happy for, a lot of positives, though, like the pace of the Arrow Electronics Honda,” he said. “There’s not a whole lot you can do about the way the yellow flags fall; that was a tough break. I think we would have had a solid top five if it wasn’t for that, and that’s something we can build off of heading into Long Beach.”
The St Petersburg Grand Prix has opened the 17-race IndyCar series for the past seven years. The next stop is the Grand Prix of Long Beach over the April 7-9 weekend.