Hinchcliffe Aiming to Protect Points Lead Toronto, Ontario (August 05, 2008) -- Leading the 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda Driver Standings for the second time this season, Toronto's James Hinchcliffe ...
Hinchcliffe Aiming to Protect Points Lead
Toronto, Ontario (August 05, 2008) -- Leading the 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda Driver Standings for the second time this season, Toronto's James Hinchcliffe knows just how tough the task is to hold on at the top ahead of a second-straight double-header race weekend, with Rounds 6 and 7 hosted at Elkhart Lake's famed Road America circuit, Friday 8th -- Sunday 10th August.
The 21-year-old Canadian initially held the points lead following victory in Round 2 at Laguna Seca in May before Dutchman Junior Strous assumed the position after Round 3. A pair of third place finishes last time out at the Edmonton double-header meeting, Rounds 4 and 5, allowed Hinchcliffe to take the lead for a second time. James, who competes for Forsythe Pettit Racing in the #3 INDECK/TireRack.com Swift Mazda-Cosworth entry, heads to Wisconsin this weekend with a narrow five point advantage over Finnish rookie Markus Niemela (118-113).
Road America, a sweeping 4.08-mile permanent road course, has proved to be a happy hunting ground for Hinchcliffe in the past, despite last season's Atlantic finale where he qualified and finished 14th. James scored his first Formula BMW USA Championship victory at the track in 2004, the first of three wins that season on his way to rookie honours and runner-up in the title chase.
The following season and 'Hinch' once again found the top step of the podium at Elkhart Lake, this time winning Round 9 of the Star Mazda Championship, his second of three victories that year on his way to third overall in the Driver Standings before graduating up to the Atlantic Championship. Conscious that past success counts for little, James is still keen to add to his win tally at the track.
"As another double-header weekend there's no doubt that Road America's going to be a crucial race meeting," remarked Hinchcliffe. "That said, the last one wasn't too bad and we left Edmonton with the points lead. I'd obviously like to extend the gap at the head of the pack and pick up another win or two along the way. I've had some success at the track in the past and Atlantics is the only series I've raced at there where I haven't won so ideally I'd like to fix that this weekend!
"It's good to be leading the championship but it's too soon to be looking at the title. We just have to maximize every race that we have and bring the car home with as many points as we can each time we're out. Obviously the best way to do that is to go out and win races. I'll be going for it, that much is a given but with a double-header meeting you have to make sure you're quick straight off the back of the trailer. Overall I think it's going to be a really impressive weekend. We've got the American Le Mans Series, Atlantics, Star Mazda, Skip Barber and the MX-5 Cup all on the same bill. From Mazda's perspective it's a huge event and for the fans present it's going to be a great race show."
Qualifying for Round 6 takes place on Friday 8th August at 2pm ET, followed on Saturday 9th August by Round 7 qualifying at 9:45am ET. Round 6 of the 2008 Copper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda gets underway later on Saturday, the race starting at 2pm ET with Round 7 taking place on Sunday 10th August at 2:30pm ET -- www.roadamerica.com