Hinchcliffe Exits Early in San Jose San Jose, California (July 29, 2007) -- James Hinchcliffe's hopes of a strong couple of outings to wrap the 2007 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda were dealt a cruel...
Hinchcliffe Exits Early in San Jose
San Jose, California (July 29, 2007) -- James Hinchcliffe's hopes of a strong couple of outings to wrap the 2007 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda were dealt a cruel blow as he failed to complete the opening lap of Round 11 on Sunday at the Redback Raceway in San Jose, California thanks to terminal damage on the #9 NOCO/ProWorks Sierra Sierra Enterprises entry.
Heading into the penultimate round the 20-year-old Toronto racer held a slender four point lead in third place over fellow Canadian Robert Wickens in the Driver Standings. Hinchcliffe's early exit, just his second retirement of the season, has subsequently dropped him down to fourth on 217 points with Wickens leapfrogging his countryman for third off the back of a third place podium finish in California.
San Jose's 1.5-mile temporary street course claimed numerous victims throughout the weekend but prior to Sunday's first lap 'Hinch' was comfortably amongst the front-runners posting the fourth fastest lap time in Friday's first qualifying session. A strong showing was expected in Saturday's qualifying run, not least with James, holder of three pole positions this season, topping the morning's practice session with a hot lap of 55.286s (93.962mph).
A repeat wasn't on the cards however and the sophomore driver would line up ninth on the grid having notched up his tenth top-ten start of the year with a 55.821s lap (93.062mph) for Sunday's street sprint -- the pole going to America's Jonathan Bomarito, the first of his Champ Car Atlantic career with a 55.286 (93.962mph).
Describing what then proved to be the shortest Sunday of the season Hinchcliffe commented, "I lost a few places on the start, which was weird because I felt like I left the line okay, and then going through turn three I was right on the gear box of Carl (Skerlong) and I had a great run on him. I thought for sure I would get him into turn six and then on the exit of the corner he got a bit loose and lifted. I had to lift to not hit him and that snapped my rear end out and I just clipped the wall with the left rear tire and that was me done.
"It was sort of a damned if you do and damned if you don't situation, but it's just so unfortunate for points and for my Sierra Sierra guys who gave me such a good car all weekend. We dropped the ball in qualifying and these things happen when you start so far back I guess. Oh well, on to road America to finish the season!"
Pole-sitter Jonathan Bomarito celebrated the win after 48-laps leading home France's Franck Perera and Canada's Robert Wickens. James' Sierra Sierra Enterprises team-mate, Brazil's Raphael Matos, placed fourth but it was enough for the six-time 2007 race winner to be crowned Champion, both team and driver celebrating their maiden Champ Car Atlantic Championship titles with a round to spare.
Sunday's race from San Jose will be broadcast on ESPN2 on Thursday 2nd August at 5:30pm EST.