June 24, 2012
Bad air costs Hinchcliffe
By DEAN MCNULTY, QMI Agency
James Hinchcliffe has had a pretty charmed sophomore season in the IZOD IndyCar Series.
Except for a piece of the race track attacking his No. 27 Andretti Autosport Chevrolet at the Grand Prix of Detroit, Hinchcliffe had top-six finishes in every race in 2012 and was second in the IndyCar series championship behind Will Power.
In the most recent pair of races prior to Iowa, Hinchcliffe had a top-five finish (fourth) at Texas Motor Speedway and podium finish (third) at the Milwaukee Mile.
But on Saturday night in the Iowa Corn 250 at Iowa Speedway, the Oakville native’s luck came crashing to a halt — literally — on lap 196 on the 7/8ths-mile oval when his No. 27 Andretti Autosport Chevrolet got caught in some bad air sending Hinchcliffe into the wall in Turn 4.
Before the wreck took him out of the race he had led 19 laps and was a serious contender to win his first IndyCar event of his short career.
“I thought we had a good shot at winning this thing, and I just feel bad for the guys on the team,” he said.
The end for Hinchcliffe came just after a double file re-start.
“On the restart we had been under steering all night which is sort of the weird thing about it,” he said. “We had put a little bit of wing in on the stop, and I don’t know, it’s just one of those things where we got caught in some dirty air.”
The spin that put him into the wall looked, at first, like one he might be able to correct but it was not the case.
“I was behind Ryan (Hunter-Reay) and Katherine (Legge) was in front,” Hinchcliffe said. “The car had been running better on the bottom almost all night. I wasn’t able to run the high line like a lot of guys were.
“I sort of stuck it down there trying to follow Katherine through. It snapped once, snapped twice, almost caught it then it went around.
“It was a kick in the pants (that) late in the race. With the finishes that we have been having it really sucks. I feel bad for the GoDaddy guys.”
Hinchcliffe had started the race from the second row.
He also drops from second to fifth in the championship points battle with 256. Power leads with 286.
The points hit for Hinchcliffe could have been harder but Power and four time series champion Dario Franchitti also crashed and failed to finish at Iowa along with contender Ryan Briscoe.
Hinchcliffe now looks forward to his hometown Honda Indy Toronto July 8 to get back on the winning track.
JACQUES WACKS DANICA
One time Formula One champion Jacques Villeneuve incurred the wrath of NASCAR Nationwide Series starlet Danica Patrick Saturday punting the former IndyCar driver into the gravel in the closing laps of the Sargento 200 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis.
Patrick was on track for a top-five finish when the incident took her out of contention. Villeneuve ended up sixth in his No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge and got a tongue lashing from Tony Eury Jr. — crew chief for Patrick’s No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet.
Ron Fellows, Patrick teammate in the No. 5 Chevrolet, finished fifth, his third top-five result in three races at the 6.5-km road course.
The race was won by Nelson Piquet Jr., marking that first time a Brazilian driver has won a Nationwide event.
We may have seen the last of Robby Gordon in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, at least for this season. Gordon told Sporting News on Sunday he has run out of money and sponsorship for his No. 7 team. ... From the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not file, Pastor Maldonado actually thought that Lewis Hamilton was at fault for their crash at the European Grand Prix at Valencia on Sunday. ... And what ever happened to all the road course aces that used to be contenders to win on Sprint Cup road courses? At Sonoma there was Boris Said, not even a factor in the race.
NASCAR SPRINT CUP
Clint Bowyer was the surprise winner of the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Speedway Sunday.
It was the first victory of the season for the No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota team.
Bowyer, not known as a road course racer, took the lead from MWR teammate Martin Truex Jr. late in the race and never gave it back.
Tony Stewart finished second in the No. 14 Chevrolet with Kurt Busch, third in the No. 51 Chevrolet — his best result of the year.
Brian Vickers, in another MWR Toyota was fourth with Jimmie Johnson in the No. 48 Chevrolet fifth.
Fernando Alonso became the first double winner of the 2012 Formula One world championship Sunday at the European Grand Prix in Valencia.
The win by Ferrari also moved Alonso into the championship lead after Sebastian Vettel — with mechanical issues — and Lewis Hamilton — wrecked by Pastor Maldonado — failed to finish.
The podium was completed by two other former Ferrari world champions — Kimi Raikkonen, now with Lotus, in second and Michael Schumacher, now with Mercedes, in third.
Red Bull’s Mark Webber and Nico Hulkenberg for Force India rounded out the top five.
IZOD IndyCar Series
For the second consecutive week, Ryan Hunter-Reay delivered an IZOD IndyCar Series win in the No. 28 Andretti Autosport Chevrolet first at the Iowa Corn Indy 250 at Iowa Speedway.
And for the second consecutive week rain delayed the race.
Hunter-Reay’s AA teammate Marco Andretti was second with Tony Kanaan in the KV Racing Technology Chevrolet finishing third.
Oakville’s James Hinchcliffe crashed his No. 27 Chevrolet and finished 17th.
The other Canadian in the race, Alex Tagliani of Montreal finished 16th after his No. 98 Honda developed mechanical problems.