Hinchcliffe Wraps Atlantic Season with Podium Toronto, Ontario (October 04, 2008) -- James Hinchcliffe returned to the podium with a third place effort at Road Atlanta as the 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda...
Hinchcliffe Wraps Atlantic Season with Podium
Toronto, Ontario (October 04, 2008) -- James Hinchcliffe returned to the podium with a third place effort at Road Atlanta as the 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda concluded with Round 11 at the Georgia track on Friday 3rd October.
Absent from the top-three since Round 5 in Edmonton back in July, the 21-year-old Toronto racer wrapped his Atlantic season piloting the Forsythe Pettit Racing #3 INDECK/TireRack.com entry with his fourth podium of the year and his sixth top-five finish in eleven starts. Hinchcliffe, who won Round 2 and had twice led the Driver Standings earlier in the season, finished the year fourth overall in the points, equaling his final placing from last year's championship.
After a rare qualifying slot outside the top-ten at the previous round at Miller Motorsports Park, James returned to the sharp-end of the grid at the 2.54-mile Road Atlanta track, situated in Braselton, Georgia. Sixth fastest in the first qualifying session, the second outing proved to be the quicker of the two with 'Hinch' securing a fourth row start slot with the seventh quickest time, his lap a 1m14.778s (122.282mph) to pole-sitter Jonathan Summerton's 1m14.137s (123.339mph) -- a new Atlantic lap record.
A good start saw James gain a couple spots to target the podium in what was the championship deciding race. A hectic re-start following a late caution period allowed James to fight for his podium finish, the Canadian emerging victorious from a five car tussle. At the checkered James claimed third behind countryman Kevin Lacroix in second and race winner and 2008 Atlantic Championship Champion Markus Niemela from Finland.
"I have to say it was great to get back onto the podium to finish the year," said Hinchcliffe. "It was a nice finishing touch and felt great after recent results even if it was a bit fortunate. Our pace was there though; I messed up qualifying a bit on Thursday but knew the car was quick. I have to say congratulations to both Markus Niemela and Brooks Associates Racing for their championship success. It's been a rollercoaster season but we've ended it on a high note!"