Hinchcliffe Grabs Houston Podium Toronto, Canada (April 22, 2007) -- Consistency proved key to James Hinchcliffe's first podium finish of the 2007 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda season as ...
Hinchcliffe Grabs Houston Podium
Toronto, Canada (April 22, 2007) -- Consistency proved key to James Hinchcliffe's first podium finish of the 2007 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda season as the sophomore racer grabbed the third and final placing in Round 3 today in Houston, Texas.
The 20-year-old driver of the #9 NOCO/ProWorks Sierra Sierra Enterprises entry failed to finish lower than third in each of the weekend's practice and qualifying sessions and he backed up his front-running pacing on Sunday with a third place finish at the 1.638-mile JAGFlo Speedway at Reliant Park behind team-mate and race winner, Brazil's Raphael Matos and America's Carl Skerlong.
Scoring his third straight top-ten finish, Hinchcliffe's street racing prowess over the opening three rounds in Las Vegas, Long Beach and Houston have served the Toronto racer well as he climbed to third overall in the Driver Standings, up from fifth, heading into a six-week break before Portland's double-header meeting in June, James returning to the Oregon track as defending race champion.
Sierra Sierra Enterprises were the class of the field throughout the weekend with Friday's practice and qualifying sessions a sign of things to come. 'Hinch' was third fastest in practice before locking out the top two spots in qualifying with his team-mate Matos, the Brazilian edging James for the provisional pole and extra point. The duo then dominated Saturday's proceedings, leading the 28-car field in practice and final qualifying with Matos taking his second consecutive pole with a lap of 1m04.520s (93.906mph) to James' best of 1m04.988s (93.230mph), his first front-row start of the season.
Sunday morning's 43-lap race saw James rocket off the line, the Canadian faster to the throttle than Matos but it was the series leader who hogged the first turn to lead the field through the streets of Houston. Rookie Carl Skerlong then dived from fourth to second dropping Hinchcliffe to third -- a position he'd hold through to the checkered flag 50-minutes later despite some late-race advances from Jonathan Bomarito, 'Hinch' taking the podium spot with a 1.2 second cushion over the American.
"It was a good result in Texas," Hinchcliffe commented. "Sierra Sierra did a great job to get both cars on the front-row yesterday, it's just unfortunate that we couldn't turn it into a one-two finish at the checkered today. It was tight heading into that first turn with Rafa, I came really close to hitting him under braking but I know taking your team-mate out's a cardinal sin. Carl then came out of nowhere and snatched second. Overall though it feels good to get my first podium of the season out of the way and hopefully we can carry this momentum forward. I'm happy to have improved my position in the standings. We just have to keep working away and make sure we keep ahead of the competition."
Rounds 4 & 5 of the 2007 Champ Car Atlantic Championship take place at the Portland International Raceway, Oregon, 8th-10th June.