(BIRMINHAM, AL) – Post claiming his first victory at Long Beach, after a 2015 collision during practice at the Indianapolis Speedway, Oakville’s James Hinchcliffe had a tougher time of it at Barber Motorsports Park, the site of his IndyCar debut in 2011. Despite the 6th place finish, Hinchcliffe sits just 15 points off the points lead after three races.
Hinchcliffe and his crew were viewing Barber with an eye to put two victories together.
“I think the whole Arrow Electronics team is really looking forward to Barber this weekend,” said the Dancing With the Stars competitor prior to race weekend. “After two street courses, it’s going to be great to get back to a road course. We’ve had good pace the first two races and we’re really hoping to carry that momentum, especially coming off the win at Long Beach, into this weekend and hopefully keep it rolling for the rest of the season.”
His optimism for the Alabama race began to wane after practice.
“Pretty rough day for us to be honest. We just seemed to miss the balance, especially in the afternoon as the track got hotter,” the Mayor of Hinchtown said. “I don’t think we maximized our new tire runs, but the balance was never exactly where the Arrow Electronics crew wanted it. We certainly have our work cut out for us because the field is very close, as it always is, and being a couple tenths off is going to put you a few rows back. We’ll put our heads together and try and come up with a solution for tomorrow.”
The Canadian qualified sixth with a speed of 121.996mph, but didn’t move up from his starting grid position during race day. The competitive IndyCar Series is unforgiving to teams who still need to fine tune their cars for better performance and track position.
— James Hinchcliffe (@Hinchtown) April 22, 2017
“I feel bad for the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports guys,” said Hinchcliffe post race. “The Arrow Electronics Honda was good enough for a podium, but I tried to go around the outside of Simon (Pagenaud) on the restart and lost a couple of spots. It’s just so hard to pass; track position is everything here. I’m a bit bummed. The guys deserved a little more today, but I guess overall it’s a good thing when you’re disappointed with a sixth-place finish.”
With the 90-lap race behind him, Hinchcliffe now turns his attention to the Phoenix Grand Prix this weekend. He’s only started 1 race at Phoenix, in 2016, pushing off from the 22nd position and moving up to 18th. But, just four of the 21 drivers entered have multiple starts in the desert and two have never raced there before.
The Phoenix International Raceway is a 1-mile low-banked tri-oval with a seating capacity of 67,000. The 250-lap race has been contested since 1964, but returned to the IndyCar circuit in 2016 after an 11-year hiatus.