|Schmidt Peterson Motorsports' James Hinchcliffe driving the No. 5 Honda Dallara DW12 IndyCar celebrates with his red-gloved fist in the air as he wins his first Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Image Credit: Ken Manfred (2017)|
Spoils Go To The Canadian Victor At The 43rd Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach
Victory takes on many forms when one perseveres through the struggles of being a top-level race car driver in a top-level racing series.
It had been two years since Oakville, Ontario's James Hinchcliffe stood at the middle and top spot of a podium platform at the end of a Verizon IndyCar Series contest held at the "one-of" race held in the rain at NOLA Motorsports Park outside of New Orleans. Just soon after this momentous fourth win in IndyCar, James suffered a major life-threatening puncture to his left upper thigh reaching up into the pelvic area through a Turn 3 crash at 220mph at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during INDY 500 practice.
Recovery and the drive in James Hinchcliffe to continue in this passion of driving a race car at the highest levels of competition were rewarded one-year and three days later when he captured his first ever Verizon P1 Pole Award at the very same track that almost killed him.
As icing on this cake, it came at the celebration of the historic 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. True grit was shown because James put together this scintillating four-lap run of 230.760 mph as the final driver of the day in the Fast Nine Shootout - no pressure.
|James Hinchcliffe gets instructions while in the pits at the 38th Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach at the controls of his Andretti Autosport No. 27 Go Daddy Chevrolet DW12 Dallara. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2012)|
Hinchcliffe has raced here at Long Beach in the Verizon IndyCar Series since 2011 with three different teams - Newman-Haas, Andretti Autosport, and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports - and has reached the podium once at P3 in 2012 for Andretti Autosport.
|James Hinchcliffe leads Andretti Autosport teammates Alexander Rossi and Marco Andretti through the Hairpin Turn before applying the power down the long Shoreline Drive front straight early in the race before all Andretti Autosport cars retire with problems by the race's end. Image Credit: Myles Regan (2017)|
This excerpted and edited from CBS NEWS (AP) -
IndyCar star James Hinchcliffe, who nearly died in race, checks big one off bucket list
CBS NEWS (AP) - April 10, 2017, 7:46 AM
Not once did James Hinchcliffe think his career was over after a near-fatal accident in 2015.
At long last, he’s got his first win on the race track since his accident.
Hinchcliffe won a three-lap shootout to the finish Sunday on the streets of Long Beach to win in a Honda for Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports. It was the Canadian’s first victory since 2015 at New Orleans, a month before his accident at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“To finally do what was goal No. 1 when we set out at the start of the season, to get back into winner’s circle, to do so as early in the season as we have, as convincingly as we did, was great,” said Hinchcliffe.
He’ll gladly take it at Long Beach, the most historic street course race in the country.
“After Indy and personally me for Toronto, this is the biggest one to win,” Hinchcliffe said. “I’ve had a lot of luck here. We’ve been really quick here in the past and to finally get to victory lane here is more than I can put into words. This place has a lot of history, that’s what drivers really care about. The greatest of the greats have won here.
“Toronto, Indy and this place were on my bucket list to win before I die, and it’s nice to check one off.”
Sebastien Bourdais followed his season-opening victory at St. Pete with a second-place finish to give Honda a 1-2 podium finish.
Josef Newgarden was the highest finishing Team Penske driver and was third in a Chevrolet.
[The three-lap shootout] set it up for Hinchcliffe to have to race Bourdais to the finish, but Bourdais was focused on the big picture in the closing laps. Hinchcliffe had gotten off to such a great start when racing resumed, that Bourdais tried only to maintain his running position.
“We played to our strengths and I’ve always been comfortable saving fuel,” Bourdais said. “We lost balance a little bit, and I was really thinking about saving second place. I was thinking championship.”
Complete Race Description By Motorsport.com HERE >>>
Verizon IndyCar Series Box Score HERE >>>
For many who race at the highest levels in autosport, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (TGPLB), after running as an event for 43 years and exclusively the home of American open-wheel racing for for 33, is the considered to be "INDY 500 of street courses."
James Hinchcliffe expressed this attitude and feeling about the TGPLB with the following comment, "We worked hard this off-season to perfect the package we had. Good speed at a lot of races last year. To roll off the first two races of the season, being in the Fast Six both times, if not for a caution falling for the wrong time at St. Pete, could have been in the top five or on podium there. To do it here and finally at this place, a track that I love so much, a track that's been very good to me in my career, one that I think is the Indy 500 of street tracks, it's the second longest running race after the 500. I think because of that history, it makes it a very special event, one that every driver wants to win. The greats have all raced here, the greats have all won here. To get in the winner's circle was huge."
Additional points of order to history as a race car driver from Canada are reflected in a bit of everything James Hinchcliffe does, from the number on his car - No. 5, which he now has as the number of wins in IndyCar matching the marks set by Greg Moore, Jacques Villeneuve, and Patrick Carpentier.
Additional Post Race Quotes From James Hinchcliffe:
“If someone told me after NOLA last year that five wins was the number Greg had, the number Jacques Villeneuve had, and I believe the number Patrick Carpentier had. Only PT is higher than that in the list of Canadians in in IndyCar racing. To drive at a level with those guys, I mean, it’s tough to put into words”
“Greg was a huge motivation and a huge inspiration to me as a child. I followed Jacques’ career religiously. When Pat and Greg were teammates, followed Pat as well, to now be level with those guys is incredible.
“You know what, when I came into this sport, I felt a huge responsibility, to be honest, to keep up the good name that Canadian drivers had in IndyCar. There haven’t been a ton of us. The ones that have been here have been race winners, they’ve been contenders week in and week out. I wanted to maintain that, you know, record for Canada, not be the guy that let us down.”
AND ... about the Red Gloves with the Canadian flag and HINCH emblazoned on them, raised high in victory? A tribute to the shortened career of Greg Moore.
... notes from The EDJE
TAGS: James Hinchcliffe, Sebastien Bourdais, Josef Newgarden, Red Gloves, Greg Moore, Jacques Villeneuve, Patrick Carpentier, Paul Tracy, #TGPLB43, No. 5, Arrow, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, Honda, Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, The EDJE