Hinchcliffe Seventh at Kentucky Speedway Toronto, Canada (August 02, 2009) -- James Hinchcliffe enjoyed his first lead laps of the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights Series season on Saturday, 1st August, but a late race spin at the Kentucky ...
Hinchcliffe Seventh at Kentucky Speedway
Toronto, Canada (August 02, 2009) -- James Hinchcliffe enjoyed his first lead laps of the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights Series season on Saturday, 1st August, but a late race spin at the Kentucky Speedway would ultimately hold the Canadian rookie to a seventh place finish at the checkered after 67-laps.
The 22-year-old Toronto native picked up 26 points from the eleventh round outing, Hinchcliffe classified fifth in the Driver Standings but sharing 293 points with fourth-placed Mario Romancini from Brazil.
James arrived in Kentucky off of the back of yet another strong showing in Canada, finishing fourth the week before in Edmonton having earlier scored his fourth podium of the season in Toronto courtesy of a third place finish. Improving his oval form throughout the first-half of the season, including a podium last time out at the Iowa Speedway, 'Hinch' had to sit on the sidelines through Friday as damp-spots, or 'weepers' on the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway put paid to any qualifying effort.
With the starting grid for Saturday's race subsequently based on championship points, James was scheduled to take the green-flag fifth behind the wheel of his Sam Schmidt Motorsports #7 HinchTown.com Dallara-Firestone. J.R. Hildebrand's return to the pits on the final warm-up lap effectively moved the line up with James starting third and making the most of the tow, eventually passing Sebastian Saavedra for the lead of the race -- his first at the front in his maiden Indy Lights season.
Battling a progressively loose race car eventually dropped the Canadian stand-out back to third with team-mate Wade Cunningham and Saavedra fighting for the 100th win in Indy Lights history, Cunningham eventually proving triumphant. A late challenge by Ana Beatriz had Hinchcliffe fighting to hold on to his potential podium but a spin with two laps remaining denied the rookie although he successfully avoided contact with both his on-track rivals and Kentucky Speedway's walls to hold onto seventh at the checkered.
"It's frustrating to know we had a podium car today but to survive a spin and still come away with a top-ten finish and 26 points isn't too bad," Hinchcliffe remarked post-race. "It felt good to lead my first laps here in the series and show that we have the pace to run competitively on ovals. I'm only taking positives from this race and look forward to next week's meeting at Mid-Ohio and some road-course action!"
Round 12 of the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights Series sees a return to road-course racing next weekend, Sunday 9th August, with Hinchcliffe and Co. heading to the sweeping 2.4-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Mid-Ohio.