Sonoma: James Hinchcliffe race notes

Hinchcliffe Climbs to Fourth Exiting Infineon Toronto, Canada (August 23, 2009) -- James Hinchcliffe climbed a spot to fourth overall in the Driver Standings in the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights Series thanks to a sixth place finish in Round 13 on...

Hinchcliffe Climbs to Fourth Exiting Infineon

Toronto, Canada (August 23, 2009) -- James Hinchcliffe climbed a spot to fourth overall in the Driver Standings in the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights Series thanks to a sixth place finish in Round 13 on Sunday as California's Infineon Raceway marked the final road course event in this year's 15-race schedule.

The Canadian rookie, piloting the Sam Schmidt Motorsports entered #7 HinchTown.Com Dallara-Firestone, qualified fifth on Saturday before taking the checkered in Sunday's 40-lap race sixth in a train of cars chasing down pole-sitter and race winner, America's J.R. Hildebrand -- who continues to lead the title chase from team-mate Sebastian Saavedra from Colombia.

Hinchcliffe's strong points-scoring consistency, collecting another 28 markers at Infineon, saw him leap-frog team-mate and former series champion, Wade Cunningham, to gain fourth in the standings, on 361 points, with just two rounds remaining (Chicagoland -- 29th August / Homestead-Miami Speedway -- 9th October).

A decent practice outing started the weekend followed by a more trying qualifying effort at the 4.06km circuit. Despite this, James locked himself into the top-five and ultimately, come race day, was bumped up to fourth with Sebastian Saavedra, initially second, moving to the rear of the field thanks to an engine change.

A sluggish start from Brazil's Ana Beatriz, who led the right-hand side of the grid off the line, bogged 'Hinch' down directly behind. From there Sunday's race proved to be somewhat frustrating for the 22-year-old from Toronto. Locked onto the rear of Beatriz's car for the majority of the event, with no passing opportunities coming his way, James was forced to drive a smart, if unspectacular race, with a solid score of more importance than a 'go for glory' move to gain a position by the checkered.

"Well I think we had a better car than the final result shows but all things considered we have to look at the bigger picture," reflected Hinchcliffe post-race. "I had a bit of a braking issue but overall the car was fairly decent. That said, it was impossible to pass Bea and I wasn't going to jeopardize a good points haul.

"The net result is that I'm up to fourth in the standings and we're not too far behind Davison for a crack at third before season's end. We're heading back onto ovals to round things out and I've got a bit of momentum going there thanks to a decent run in Kentucky earlier this month. I know we can enjoy a strong finish to the year!"

Round 14 of the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights Series heads back east next weekend to the Chicagoland Speedway, Illinois, Saturday 29th August.

-credit: hinchtown.com

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Sam Schmidt , Wade Cunningham , James Hinchcliffe , Sebastian Saavedra , J.R. Hildebrand , Ana Beatriz