IndyCar's Hinchcliffe a real star

DEAN MCNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:35 PM ET

It is clear that James Hinchcliffe is fast becoming a worthy heir in the long line of top Canadian drivers in the IZOD IndyCar Series.

His top-10 finish at the So Paulo 300 on Monday was his second in three races to go with his fourth-place finish at Long Beach.

It is just unfortunate the 24-year-old from Oakville, Ont., had to wait so long to get to open wheels’ top North American loop.

Only sponsorship stopped him from jumping into an IndyCar Dallara Honda after the 2009 season when he finished fifth in the Firestone Indy Lights series.

But Hinchcliffe is happy to be with the very respected Newman-Hass racing team this season and with his result from Brazil. “We got another top-ten and were the top rookie so we are relatively pleased,” he said. “We have had two good finishes in a row now and the confidence is high for the team.”

Next up for Hinchcliffe in the Sprott financial-sponsored NHR team is the Indianapolis 500.

“The Indy 500 is going to be my first oval in an Indy car and it’s going to be the biggest race of the year so it’s a lot to take in but we are heading there with good momentum,” he said. “Newman/Haas Racing always has good cars at the Speedway and we have a big Sprott contingent coming down so we’re really excited.”

NASCAR BOSS LOVES EARNHARDT

There is not a doubt that NASCAR Sprint Cup’s Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the most popular race car driver in North America — maybe even the world.

And the bosses that run NASCAR have made no secret of the fact that a win by Earnhardt in any of its 36 points races would cure any ails the series might have.

NASCAR boss of bosses Brian France repeated that mantra on Monday in an appearance on ESPN’s NASCAR Now program.

“He’s the biggest franchise in NASCAR,” France said. “It would be great if he continues to figure out the chemistry of the team.

“He’s done that, and I think his confidence is finally back to where it was a few years ago. He went through a pretty good slump, so it’s nice to see him competing at a high level.”

Earnhardt was in third place in the championship prior to Saturday’s Crown Royal 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

He dropped to fourth after finishing 19th in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

MY WEEKLY RANT

The so-called IndyCar purists have regularly aimed their poison darts this way for what they think is a bias towards NASCAR racing in this space.

No matter how many times I assure them no such bias exists, they find a way to think otherwise.

So it is with this in mind that I aim my rant this week at the IZOD IndyCar operations for its mishandling of the whole Sao Paulo 300 fiasco this past weekend.

Here was their perfect opportunity to get their product front and centre in the racing world. With NASCAR racing Saturday night and Formula One taking a week off, IndyCar had Sunday all to itself.

But near torrential rain ruined the start where four cars were taken out before the first turn was completed. That there was a start at all was ridiculous.

There isn’t a rain tire in the world that could hold these cars down on this track, under the conditions that prevailed on Sunday.

Simply put, IndyCar bosses should have cancelled the race before it started.

Instead it forced viewers to sit through a pair of red flag situations before pronouncing the race would be postponed until Monday — first at 1 p.m. and then later to 8 p.m.

These same folks either didn’t know or didn’t care that for the Canadian market that meant there would be no live television for the re-started event.

With two races in Canada this summer, IndyCar bosses should have made some arrangements to get the race on the tube in real time.


Videos

Photos