Utah: James Hinchcliffe race report

Tenth Place Utah Finish for Hinchcliffe Toronto, Ontario (September 22, 2008) -- James Hinchcliffe scored his eighth top-ten finish of the season on Sunday, 21st September, as the Canadian racer collected a tenth place finish in the...

Tenth Place Utah Finish for Hinchcliffe

Toronto, Ontario (September 22, 2008) -- James Hinchcliffe scored his eighth top-ten finish of the season on Sunday, 21st September, as the Canadian racer collected a tenth place finish in the penultimate round of the 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda at Salt Lake City's Miller Motorsports Park.

Round 10 saw the Atlantic Championship make its debut at the picturesque Utah facility having similarly debuted at the all-new New Jersey Motorsports Park the week before. Qualifying once again proved to be key to Sunday's race but Hinchcliffe's run of nine consecutive top-ten starts came to an end.

Chasing a set-up in the Forsythe Pettit Racing #3 INDECK/Tire.Rack.com entry, Friday's best of 2m31.380s (106.683mph) was the fastest lap recorded by James with Saturday's qualifying times marginally slower due to slightly cooler conditions at the 4.5-mile permanent road course. As a result, the 21-year-old Toronto resident would start Sunday's 50-minute race 13th while pole position went to Markus Niemela, the Finn lapping in 2m28.915s (108.449mph) for his first career pole.

A good start allowed Hinchcliffe to pass for a couple of positions heading into the first of Miller's turns but after that, overtaking opportunities proved few and far between for the Canadian. Enjoying a more competitive race car was a positive but at the end of an event-free 20 laps of racing, James crossed the checkered tenth overall to hold sixth in the Driver Standings heading into the season finale in two weeks time. Niemela converted pole into a maiden win, the rookie joined on the podium by the American duo of Jonathan Summerton and Dane Cameron.

"Unfortunately we had to start the race further down the grid than we'd have obviously liked," stated Hinchcliffe. "The team found some gains in the morning's warm-up session on the sister car which we then applied to my car for the race and it was considerably better but the nature of the beast at Miller is that it's difficult to pass. I had a decent first lap making up a couple of spots and after that we just settled into a rhythm. As soon as you made some gains on the car in front of you though you really began to feel the effects of its wake and that made passing extremely difficult. It's unfortunate that we struggled early in the weekend as we had a good, consistent car by Sunday's race.

"Miller Motorsports Park is a beautiful circuit to drive; the layout's incredible with a good mix of corners. The flip-side is that with it being quite a fast, technical track, it can sometimes make the racing less than stellar; it's kind of a bitter-sweet place in some respects. I certainly enjoyed my first visit and hope to be back in the near future. My focus now is on trying to end the season on a high note. The second half of this year's been pretty devastating for us so it would at least be nice to go out with a podium at Road Atlanta and let everyone know that we're still capable of running at the front!"

-credit: hinchtown.com

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About this article
Series Atlantic
Drivers James Hinchcliffe , Dane Cameron , Jonathan Summerton