Hinchliffe circling success

DEAN McNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:09 AM ET

TORONTO - James Hinchcliffe shouldn’t be looking forward to Saturday’s IZOD IndyCar Series Iowa Corn Indy 250 on the short track oval that is Iowa Speedway.

His whole racing background is road and street racing.

Yet with three races of left turns only under his belt this season Hinchcliffe is leading the IndyCar oval championship.

He is also only 31 ticks behind overall points leader Will Power so this week’s race in Iowa will go a long way in determining if Hinchcliffe is a real contender to wrestle the IndyCar championship from four-time winner Dario Franchitti or three-time runner-up Power.

Hinchcliffe certainly has confidence going to the mid-west 7/8th mile oval after a third-place finish at the Milwaukee Mile a week ago on another short circle track.

“There’s a bit of an unknown going into this race and it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out,” Hinchcliffe said.

He said he was a little concerned about the heat racing format that will determine the starting order.

Hinchcliffe said that once the race starts he knows he will have a good car because his Andretti Autosport team has proven so far this season that he will be in the best equipment when the green flag drops.

“This team has given us good cars at every type of race track this year, so having Milwaukee successfully under our belt — the other short oval — we are all excited to get to Iowa,” he said, “(Teammate) Marco (Andretti) had a good test there last week, and of course won there last year, so that gives us a bit of a boost coming into the weekend.”

FERRARI FOLLIES

If it is a Formula One race week there must be a new rumour about who is going to be Fernando Alonso’s new teammate at Ferrari next season.

And so it is this week at the European Grand Prix at Valenica.

Even though Ferrari bosses have not publicly said that current driver Felipe Massa won’t be back it would be minor miracle if he returned to the iconic Italian sports car group.

The latest story making the rounds is that current world champion Sebastian Vettel will move to Ferrari once his contract is up with Red Bull.

There is a problem with that, however, in that Alonso has it in his contract that he can veto any driver he might not like as a teammate and with Vettel there surely would be a fight over who is No. 1 in the Ferrari paddock.

He confirmed that he has that control this week in Valencia. “In the past, never. Now in Ferrari, yes,” he said. “I am in Italy every week when we are there. Sometimes I see the president, I see Stefano (Domenicali) and we talk about development of the car.

“We talk about the future in F1, about Corse Clienti, owners who have old F1 cars that want us to be there in some circuits to teach some senior drivers, and also about future and teammates, etc.”

Then Alonso comes out and says he would not mind having Vettel as a teammate.

“The rumours around Ferrari are always the same,” he said. “When I won the 2005 championship with Renault I was linked to Ferrari immediately and I arrived in 2010, so if Seb is linked now maybe he arrives in five years’ time.”

Alonso said he will welcome Vettel or any other new teammate should Massa get the axe.

“Every time is the same with Ferrari: whatever teammate comes in the future will be welcome, he will be part of the team and part of Ferrari,” he said. “We will try to work as we are doing now with Felipe.”

FINISH LINES

There are 23 entries for Saturday’s NASCAR Canadian Tire Series EMCO 200 at Delaware Speedway near London including last week’s winner at the Speedway at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, Mark Dilley in the No. 02 Ford. NCTS points leader J.R. Fitzpatrick would love to win at the closest track to his Cambridge home town but will have stiff competition from, among others, D. J. Kennington, who hails from just down the road in St. Thomas. ... Speaking of Delaware Speedway, Amanda Connolly — a rookie in the Lucas Oil Sportsman Cup Series — won the Tirecraft 100 last weekend. Connolly, from Aurora, Ont., started ninth in the No. 16 Pontiac and took the lead from two-time champion Jay Doerr of London on lap 96 of the 100-lap event.


Videos

Photos