Chicagoland Crash Ends Hinchcliffe's Charge Toronto, Canada (August 30, 2009) -- Canada's James Hinchcliffe crashed out of the penultimate round of the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights Series at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday, 29th August, as he was...
Chicagoland Crash Ends Hinchcliffe's Charge
Toronto, Canada (August 30, 2009) -- Canada's James Hinchcliffe crashed out of the penultimate round of the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights Series at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday, 29th August, as he was collected in the aftermath of a separate incident on the 1.5-mile oval.
Hinchcliffe's premature exit cost valuable points in the top-five Driver Standings battle, the Toronto racer dropping from fourth to fifth having been re-passed by team-mate and former series champion Wade Cunningham. J.R. Hildebrand clinched the Indy Lights title on the night, the American's fifth place finish at Chicagoland enough to secure the championship with a round to spare.
The one-day event, running in conjunction as usual with the IndyCar Series, saw the Indy Lights field limited to just one practice session before qualifying. Hinchcliffe and the crew of the Sam Schmidt Motorsports #7 HinchTown.Com Dallara-Firestone chose to focus on their race set-up, rather than a qualifying car, but as it transpired, the sudden absence of second gear on the Canadian's warm-up lap severely hampered his qualifying run.
With his momentum stalled, and effectively starting his qualifying lap from third gear, going on to set the seventh fastest lap time proved to be a welcomed result for James although it was far from what was expected from the series front-runner with fellow rookie, Brian Wagner, going on to record his maiden pole position for the race.
The 67-lap evening sprint initially saw Hinchcliffe struggling on the bottom of the track, handling issues preventing the 22-year-old from mounting a decent run. As the race transpired Hinchcliffe's car started coming back to him and he was confident running along the top line, biding his time to mount an attack at the front.
Lap 32 would ultimately prove to be the last for James at Chicagoland. Enjoying a good run out of the second turn, he was soon collected into the wall by team-mate Ana Beatriz, who similarly had been turned into by Mike Potekhen fighting for position. Unlike his car, Hinchcliffe emerged relatively unscathed from the incident but his position in the points battle suffered a blow, dropping to fifth.
"It was unfortunate what happened," said Hinchcliffe. "I was being patient, letting the race play out with the leaders but confident I could make a run to them in the last fifteen laps. Obviously I didn't get that chance but overall I'm happy with our performance. The team did a great job and I was driving a solid race. Unfortunately I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time when the accident happened!"
Round 15 of the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights Series, the series finale, takes place at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, Florida on Friday 9th October.