Pole and Podium Keep Hinch in Title Mix Edmonton, Alberta (July 25, 2008) -- History repeated itself today for James Hinchcliffe in Edmonton as the Toronto racer once again held pole for the first round of a double-header race meeting at the...
Pole and Podium Keep Hinch in Title Mix
Edmonton, Alberta (July 25, 2008) -- History repeated itself today for James Hinchcliffe in Edmonton as the Toronto racer once again held pole for the first round of a double-header race meeting at the Rexall Speedway, located at the City Centre Airport, but again had to settle for a third place podium finish -- an identical turn of events to the corresponding round of the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship held in Alberta last season.
Round 4 of the 2008 Atlantic Championship saw Hinchcliffe capture his second pole in four starts having blitzed the 1.973-mile temporary road course in 1m05.910s (107.765mph) in Friday qualifying. A year earlier 'Hinch' similarly captured the top spot in qualifying, this time the 21-year-old would be joined on the front-row of the 20-strong grid by America's Jonathan Bomarito.
To the delight of the Edmonton crowd, James converted his well-earned pole straight into the lead of the 45-minute race as he piloted the Forsythe Pettit Racing #3 INDECK/TireRack.com Swift Mazda-Cosworth through the first turn ahead of Bomarito and the chasing pack. A textbook performance from the young Canadian looked on the cards as he controlled proceedings despite constant pressure from Bomarito, racing for Mathiasen Motorsports and Finland's Markus Niemela in third.
The top-three remained static but nail-bitingly close as the race unfolded with the gap between first and third down to just eight tenths of a second on lap 26 with Hinchcliffe clinging to his lead by producing qualifying times lap after lap. As the clock ticked down James' luck ran out as a missed down-shift at Turn One allowed Bomarito to sneak through on lap 31, the Californian seizing the lead and the benefit of a clear track ahead.
A slight miss-communication then led to Niemela taking second away from James three laps later with the Canadian backing off briefly on the understanding that the full-course caution had been called. While this turned out to be the case, for two laps only, it wasn't when James initially dropped his speed but the damage was done and he had to settle for third at the checkered for his second podium of the season following his earlier victory in Round 2 at Laguna Seca in May.
"That was one tough race," stated Hinchcliffe afterwards. "It's pretty frustrating to lead that many laps and not come away with the win but Jonathan did a great job and he earned his win. We were quick in qualifying yesterday but probably didn't have the fastest car today. I was doing qualifying-style laps throughout the race just to keep the lead but it wasn't quite enough. I'll probably lose some sleep tonight on the mix-up that led to Markus passing for second but we're back in the mix tomorrow. I'm just one point off the series lead so there's still plenty of action to come from the weekend."
Round 5 takes place tomorrow, Saturday 26th July, starting at 12:45pm MDT (2:45pm EST) with James lining up on the second row of the grid in fourth. Posting a lap time of 1m05.723s (108.072mph), Hinchcliffe secured his fourth straight top-five qualifying slot while America's Carl Skerlong secured his first career Atlantic pole with a leading time of 1m05.455s (108.514mph) - www.edmontonindy.com