|Oakville, Ont.'s James Hinchcliffe signs autographs for young fans during Carb Day, the last day of practice for Sunday's Indy 500. (JEFF ROBERT/Reuters)
INDIANAPOLIS - James Hinchcliffe said he went to school on Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The 24-year-old rookie from Oakville, Ont., said at least it felt that way after struggling to find speed in the final practice for Sunday’s 100th anniversary of the Indy 500.
It was his first real chance to be on the big 2.5 mile oval in racing trim with all of the rest of the 33-car grid.
“This morning was a big education being out there with the whole field and getting in some proper running,” he said.
The No. 06 Newman-Haas Racing team, however, couldn’t seem to develop the kind of set-up that would propel them to the top of the speed chart.
Hinchcliffe qualified a decent 13th a week ago but on Friday the highest he could get was 25th with a lap of 222.434 m.p.h.
“We still have got a lot of work to do on the car,” he said. “Neither (teammate) Oriol (Servia) or I are very happy with our cars right now.”
But Hinchcliffe said an afternoon spent with his engineers after practice lifted his spirits somewhat.
“After going over what I was experiencing out on the track with our engineers I think we are headed in the right direction,” he said. “It is going to be a long race (on Sunday) and, really, this is just a first step.”