Hinchcliffe Savors Hometown Podium Toronto, Canada (July 12, 2009) -- James Hinchcliffe rocked the block on the streets of Toronto on Saturday, 11th July, as he earned his fourth podium finish of the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season ...
Hinchcliffe Savors Hometown Podium
Toronto, Canada (July 12, 2009) -- James Hinchcliffe rocked the block on the streets of Toronto on Saturday, 11th July, as he earned his fourth podium finish of the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season collecting third place in his hometown event, Round 9's 'Toronto 100'.
'Hinch' received a rapturous reception on the podium as the 22-year-old rookie successfully earned a top-three finish on the 2.82km temporary street course on his third attempt -- his two previous starts coming in the Atlantic Championship in 2006 and 2007. The Canadian stand-out remains sixth in the Driver Standings but now sits just a single point behind Australian James Davison to break the top-five.
Glorious sunshine greeted the Indy Lights field in Friday's practice and qualifying with Hinchcliffe fast out of the box. The Toronto native kept his Sam Schmidt Motorsports #7 HinchTown.Com entry comfortably in the top-five throughout practice. Qualifying proved to be a tighter affair but a typically cool performance, and a late stop for fresh tires, secured a popular front-row slot with James lining up second to pole-winner and title rival Sebastian Saavedra.
Saturday's overhead conditions, earlier at least, couldn't have been more different from the previous day with a sever thunderstorm hitting Toronto shortly after the Indy Lights' final practice. An almost dry race track greeted the 18-strong field at the start of the 50-lap race. With everyone on wet tires initially, early pit-stops for a change to slicks proved to be the priority as the streets dried completely. While Hinchcliffe lost a spot into the first turn at the start, he subsequently held onto third as the order cycled through after the stops.
While Saavedra and series leader J.R. Hildebrand had the measure of the field in first and second respectively, James comfortably raced his way to the third and final podium position to the delight of the Toronto crowd.
"Third place was a good result for us," Hinchcliffe commented post-race. "Obviously starting from second I'd have liked a little bit more but with losing out at the start and the hot pit-stops, there was a lot that could have potentially gone wrong but didn't. My team was excellent in the pits, they were calm and collected and we had a decent race car although it was maybe geared towards more of a wet-weather set-up given the variable conditions that threatened!
"It was nice to finally get a podium here in Toronto. I've been close before but bad luck has always come into play. It was awesome to have the support of friends and family as well as all the Toronto race fans. It was a cool feeling for sure!"
The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights Series remains in Canada for Round 10 with the Rexall Speedway in Edmonton, Alberta next up for the field on Saturday 25th July.