Hinchcliffe Up to Second in Champ Car Atlantic Title Battle Portland, Oregon (June 10, 2007) -- James Hinchcliffe climbed to second overall in the 2007 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered By Mazda courtesy of a...
Hinchcliffe Up to Second in Champ Car Atlantic Title Battle
Portland, Oregon (June 10, 2007) -- James Hinchcliffe climbed to second overall in the 2007 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered By Mazda courtesy of a second successive second place finish this weekend in the #9 NOCO/ProWorks Swift Mazda-Cosworth at the Portland International Raceway, Oregon.
The 20-year-old sophomore racer from Toronto, having captured back-to-back pole positions for Rounds 4 and 5 at the 1.964-mile road course, finished second Sunday behind fellow Canadian Kevin Lacroix, Hinchcliffe's Portland points haul placing him second to Sierra Sierra Enterprises team-mate, Brazil's Raphael Matos, in the chase for the Champ Car Atlantic Championship crown (140-123).
Mother Nature proved fairer to the 27-strong Atlantic field lining up on the Portland grid on Sunday morning -- a stark contrast from Saturday's rain-soaked fourth round affair. While the overcast sky loomed ominously above, it failed to turn Round 5 into a wet-weather contest although a total of four full-course caution periods disrupted the 45-minute race meeting.
James headed an all-Canadian front-row with Quebec's Kevin Lacroix lining up alongside in P2. As he had done the day before, Hinchcliffe again led the opening lap and he maintained his lead through to lap five before Lacroix managed to get a run on him exiting the final turn. Charging down the start-finish straight on lap six, Lacroix used the tow from Hinchcliffe to execute a late-braking move into the Festival Curves to seize the lead at the first turn.
The gap between the battling Canadians never increased beyond half a second as the full-course caution periods littered the following laps until the final re-start on lap 22. The track stayed green through to the checkered on lap 35 with Hinchcliffe an ever present threat in Lacroix's mirrors while comfortably holding second from France's Franck Perera several seconds in arrears in third.
With Lacroix winning and Hinchcliffe second, Canadians celebrated a second straight 1-2 Atlantic race finish following Wickens and Hinchcliffe's Portland 1-2 the day before in Round 4. James' consistency was further rewarded with the honour of setting the fastest lap of the race, his best time set on lap 27 with a 1m07.035s (105.473mph).
"Championship-wise, I think it was a great result for us, but it was a bit of a frustrating day," stated Hinchcliffe. "I think we had a bit of a quicker car at the beginning, and obviously, Kevin did a great job to get by me on that first restart. After that, it's just so tough to follow here in Portland with the long corners. We had a great car, and for the championship it's a good result. It's good to have another Canadian onboard and up here on the podium, but I've had two other Canadians have their first win in the last two races. I want my turn up top!"