Kansas Points for Hinch on Oval Debut Toronto, Canada (April 27, 2009) -- James Hinchcliffe's oval racing debut in the Firestone Indy Lights Series saw the Canadian produce a 12th place finish after 67 flat-out laps at the Kansas Speedway ...
Kansas Points for Hinch on Oval Debut
Toronto, Canada (April 27, 2009) -- James Hinchcliffe's oval racing debut in the Firestone Indy Lights Series saw the Canadian produce a 12th place finish after 67 flat-out laps at the Kansas Speedway in Sunday's 'Kansas Lottery 100', 26th April.
After back-to-back third place podiums in St. Petersburg and Long Beach, the 22-year-old Toronto racer had to settle for 18 points for his finish in Kansas but remains planted in the top-five in the Driver Standings with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway up next in a month's time.
Hoping to translate his front-running pace from the season opening street races into Saturday's qualifying run on the 1.5-mile Speedway, James' strong run of form was halted abruptly on his out lap as a fuel-pump issue sidelined his shot at the pole. As a result 'Hinch' had to start Sunday's race 23rd in the 24-car field while his Sam Schmidt Motorsports team-mate and former series champion, New Zealand's Wade Cunningham claimed the pole with a fast lap posted at 187.458mph.
While the start of Sunday's 'Kansas Lottery 100' proved chaotic, at least from the perspective of James' #7 Hinchtown.Com Dallara-Firestone entry, it didn't take the rookie long to settle into a rhythm. Adapting quickly to racing in the draft on an oval, the Ontario ace was successfully working his way through the order before an unscheduled pit-stop dropped him a lap down on the leaders.
Contact with Pablo Donoso, after the Chilean driver had dropped suddenly down the track pinning Hinchcliffe to the white line, resulted in a broken front-wing for the Canadian and an unwelcomed pit-stop for a replacement. Despite the challenges faced over the weekend, James' 12th place finish saw him score for the fourth time in four races, keeping alive his aim of a rookie championship title. Colombia's Sebastian Saavedra claimed the win ahead of pole-man Cunningham and Brazilian Mario Romancini.
"Challenging is certainly an accurate way of describing my weekend," stated Hinchcliffe. "Our problem in qualifying certainly put me behind the eight-ball as far as the race was concerned, something made all the more frustrating given the pace demonstrated by my team-mates in qualifying first and third. I should have been up there too but it wasn't to be. Taking everything that happened in Kansas into account, the outcome certainly could have been a lot worse. To come away 12th with an okay points haul is relatively satisfactory and I learned a bunch heading to Indy."
The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights Series heads to the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway next month and the 'Freedom 100', set for Friday 22nd May, two days before the world-renowned Indy 500 on Sunday 24th May.