July 7, 2012
Hinchcliffe toughs out penalty
By DEAN MCNULTY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - It was not exactly what James Hinchcliffe had hoped for in his attempt on Saturday to win the pole for his hometown Honda Indy Toronto.
The 25-year-old from Oakville finished ninth in the second qualifying session in the No. 27 Andretti Autosport GoDaddy.com Chevrolet on a best lap of 59.5958 seconds around the 2.824 km temporary street course at Exhibition Place.
That placed him outside the Fast Six, leaving him out of the final session.
And a ten spot penalty, levied after the team changed engines after the first Friday practice, will put Hinchcliffe back to the 10th row (19th) -- when the race starts Sunday afternoon.
"It's tough out there -- this is IndyCar -- it's a lot of good drivers and it's only a tenth-of-a-second that sort of makes a difference," he said.
Where Hinchcliffe was caught flat footed was the fact that his last set of Firestone Firehawk tires began to lose grip after his first lap in the second qualifying run.
"Our big thing was we were using up our tires quicker than other guys," he said. "I think the second lap was always my quickest and I didn't have a chance to improve on that so it's too bad."
And he admitted that the 10-spot penalty puts him behind and awfully big eight ball.
"We have to take the penalty so we'll start 19th and see what we can do from there," Hinchcliffe said. "But this is Toronto and a lot of things cam happen between the start and the finish.
"If we keep our nose clean and get some passing opportunities early the No. 27 GoDaddy Chevrolet still has a real good chance to win this thing on Sunday."
He said that the engine problems that developed on Friday kept him from having a second practice session but the team Andretti Autosport crew was able to deliver him a car Saturday that should be good on race day.
"Obviously Friday didn't go our way completely ‹ the first session was a bit rough and then no running in the second session, so overnight we took a bit of a swing at it and definitely made the car a lot better for this morning," Hinchcliffe said. "It's a big credit to the Go Daddy guys and everyone at Andretti Autosport, I think we made all our car a bit better."