“It lifted up a bit of this tar that had a big chunk of concrete attached to it. And that got lodged underneath my race car, popped the front wheel up in the air and launched me straight into the wall.”
Hinchcliffe said in no way was this something that just all of a sudden happened and that Barfield and race-control officials should have called a full-course yellow as soon as it became apparent there was something terribly wrong with the track.
He contended that the track on Belle Isle Park — in the middle of the Detroit River — had started coming apart early in the 90-lap race.
“We were driving over these patches of tar that had been used to fill in giant cracks in the race track right from the start,” Hinchcliffe said.
“A big piece of it had flipped up and was just sitting on the side of the track from about Lap 5 on.
“We had just been driving around it because it was green-flag racing. We were just missing it every lap.”
He said many of the drivers in the race were complaining about the track’s condition.
“I was 100% wondering why race control had not called a full-course caution,” Hinchcliffe said. “And that is why I was so upset. I had seen this piece of track — it looked just like a tar snake — just sitting there and I was astounded at how big it was and how close to the racing line it was.”
Hinchcliffe said he kept waiting, and waiting for race control to call a caution.
“If this had been an oval race, they throw a caution when a hot-dog wrapper gets on the track and here we were driving over chunks of concrete,” he said.
“I was floored that a caution wasn’t thrown to try to remove it or at least look at the situation because the track was deteriorating in other places as well.”
Hinchcliffe said that on the lap just before he crashed a smaller piece of pavement hit his car hard enough to make him think it might have broken one of his front wings.
“I was following Graham Rahal, who kicked up a piece of junk that hit me on the front wing,” he said. “I was actually on the radio to my team telling them that there might have been damage because it sounded like a big hit.”
It was at that point that Hinchcliffe feared for his safety.
“The fact that (race control) let it go as far as they did, essentially waiting for someone to crash as a result of it before they did something, is very unsafe,” he said.
Hinchcliffe — besides crashing and destroying his $300,000 Dallara DW12 race car — took a big hit in the series championship-points battle.
Going in to the Detroit race Hinchcliffe was in second place but fell to a sixth place tie with Dario Franchitti after his 21st-place finish on Sunday.
“It was ridiculously unfair to us,” he said.
“We ended up destroying a race car and took away a potentially decent-points day because they just didn’t feel like throwing a yellow.”
It was the first race of the season that Hinchcliffe failed to finish and, in fact, the first race where he didn’t finish in the top six.
“In the big picture, all of the other top 10 drivers have had one bad finish this season, so I guess, maybe, it was our turn,” Hinchcliffe said.
“But it doesn’t make it any easier to take.”