|Oakville's James Hinchcliffe drives his No. 27 Team Go.Daddy Andretti Autosport Chevy Dallara DW12 during testing earlier this month. Hinchcliffe, who finished fourth in the first IndyCar race of the season in St. Petersburg will race in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on Sunday. (GETTY IMAGES)
For the first time in his IZOD IndyCar Series career James Hinchcliffe gets a second look at a track with the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.
This relatively new natural road course was the scene of Hinchcliffe’s first IndyCar race last season after he missed the season opener due to lack of sponsorship.
No such problems this season as the 25-year-old Canadian will be driving the No. 27 Andretti Autosport GoDaddy.com Chevrolet after a stout fourth place finish at St. Petersburg last week.
And he is looking forward to keeping up the pace.
“It will be nice to go back with Andretti Autosport and Go Daddy this year and see what we can do in round two,” Hinchcliffe said. “We know roughly were we sit in street course trim (after last week’s race in St. Petes) so we just have to see how it is on the faster tracks, but our test (at Barber) went well for us so I’m confident we can be in a strong positions this weekend.”
Canada’s other IndyCar starter — Montreal’s Alex Tagliani — will also be trying to improve his performance from St. Petersburg where he finished 15th in the No. 98 BHA Barracuda Lotus.
It was revealed after the race that Tagliani was suffering the effects of a flu bug as well as not having the kind of testing time Hinchcliffe and the Chevrolet and Honda teams had experienced.
“I started feeling sick during the race weekend and was diagnosed with Influenza A-B,” he said. “I’ve been taking measures to feel better throughout the week and hope to be back to 100% by race time on Sunday.
Tagliani likes the Barber layout and hopes his experience there will help improve his finish.
“I like the track quite a bit — it’s intense and very difficult with high-speed corners and it’s just a pretty fast track,” he said. “Unfortunately, we had to change our engine after the race in St. Petersburg, so we’ll be starting 10 places behind our qualifying position. Also, some of the other teams have tested here in the off-season, so there’s a little bit of an advantage, but we’ll continue to evolve with the car and do the best we can.”
The race will be seen on TSN2 — tape delayed — at 5 p.m. EDT following the Sprint Cup event.