GoDaddy high on Hinchcliffe

Canadian IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe. (BRENT SMITH/Reuters file photo)

Canadian IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe. (BRENT SMITH/Reuters file photo)

DEAN McNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:33 PM ET

TORONTO - Canada’s James Hinchcliffe was bitterly disappointed that he did not finish Sunday’s IZOD IndyCar Series Honda Indy Toronto, but on Tuesday he got a consolation prize.

Hinchcliffe’s image was given front and centre treatment on the GoDaddy.com homepage.

The 25-year-old native of Oakville, Ont., has been involved in months of semi-serious lobbying in very funny national television ads — and on billboards and subway platform ads across the GTA — to replace former IndyCar driver and now NASCAR star Danica Patrick as the face of GoDaddy, who sponsors both drivers.

And on Tuesday the company relented because of an aggressive write in campaign by Hinchcliffe fans, and to help make up for his aborted stab at winning his hometown race.

“We are most impressed with Hinch’s initiative ... and his attention-grabbing grassroots ‘Hinch for Homepage’ campaign,” GoDaddy said in a release. “It was fun to watch and took on a life of its own on Facebook and Twitter ... and even on network television.”

The company said in spite of the No. 27 Andretti Autosport Chevrolet suffering an engine failure at the Honda Indy, it was impressed with Hinchcliffe’s efforts.

“While Sunday’s Toronto race didn’t turn out the way Hinch hoped, we, like his fellow Canadians, are ready to cheer him on in Edmonton and beyond,” GoDaddy said.

“As a salute to his efforts, his drive and his passion ... James Hinchcliffe is prominently featured on the GoDaddy.com homepage today.

“It’s significant Internet exposure, when you consider of all the websites in the world, GoDaddy.com is the 90th ranked website internationally and the 48th most-visited site in the U.S.”

ALLMENDINGER’S WOES

The storm that has enveloped A.J. Allmendinger since NASCAR announced the 30-year-old Californian had a positive drug test Saturday just prior to the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona isn’t anywhere near over after it was announced Tuesday that he had authorized the testing of the “B” sample.

The results from an “A” sample, taken after the race at Kentucky last week, were enough for NASCAR to suspend Allmendinger until the “B” sample is also tested, which it will be this week.

The illegal substance found in Allmendinger’s urine was not identified, although media reports out of Charlotte, N.C. have quoted his manager, Tara Regan, as saying he was “shocked” he tested positive.

Allmendinger came to NASCAR from open wheel racing, where he was the 2006 winner of the then Molson Indy Toronto, and is well known to be a physical fitness buff, so it unlikely he was indulging in so called recreational drug use.

And a drunk driving charge three years ago apparently put him off abusing alcohol.

The bottom line, however, is that a positive drug test in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series can pretty much end a career in its tracks — just ask Jeremy Mayfield.

Roger Penske, team owner of Allmendinger’s No. 22 Dodge, has expressed his disappointment in what happened but told Indianapolis Star motorsports columnist Curt Cavin that he wants to wait for the results form the second sample before deciding on Allmendinger’s future with the team.

“We’re going to wait and see what the second test results are before we make any comment or decisions,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sam Hornish Jr., another former IndyCar driver, took over in the No. 22 Dodge Saturday at Daytona and will do so again this week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the LENOX Industrial Tools 301.

FINISH LINES

The U.S. Army has decided to pull its troops and its estimated $10-million US sponsorship budget from the No. 39 Stewart Haas Racing Chevrolet team of Ryan Newman. While the move is not a total surprise it does lend credence to the rumours that Newman is headed to Richard Childress Racing next season ... Congratulations are in order for Kevin Harvick and his wife Delana on the arrival of the first child — a boy named Deelan Paul — who was born on Sunday. ... Stewart Haas Racing has added the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway to the Sprint Cup schedule for Danica Patrick and the No. 10 Chevrolet team. That will make 10 Cup races this season for Patrick who is expected to race full time in NASCAR’s top series next year with SHR.

DEAN'S RANT

The penalties that the IZOD IndyCar Series places on teams for replacing engines before their specified expiry date just aren’t working.

It is all fine and good that each of the manufacturers — Honda, Chevrolet and Lotus — agreed that allowing teams to change engines willy nilly would be neither fair nor cost effective in today’s tough economic times.

And the 10-spot grid penalty would stop that abuse.

But when one blows up on the track during a race — as the engine in the No. 27 Andretti Autosport Chevrolet of James Hinchcliffe did on Sunday in the Honda Indy — it was hardly an effort to thwart the rules.

Now Hinchcliffe goes to his second Canadian race at the Edmonton Indy next week and will have to start 10 places back from where he qualifies through no fault of his own.

Not only are Hinchcliffe and Andretti being punished but so are the fans who will show up to cheer a native son at the City Centre Airport track in Edmonton, just as the Toronto fans were cheated when he had to change motors prior to the Honda Indy.

The rule should be changed to allow for an engine change without a penalty when said engine fails during a race.

ANDRETTI KNOWS WINNING STREAKS

Michael Andretti knows a little about winning streaks. After all he has won a record seven Toronto IndyCar races.

So what’s his advice to Ryan Hunter-Reay, who captured his third consecutive IZOD IndyCar Series win on Sunday?

“Don’t do anything different than you’ve been doing the past three races,” Andretti said. “He’s been late every Thursday for his engineering meeting, so he’s got to plan on being late for the next one in Edmonton.

“I don’t think the team should do anything different. We should just continue to do our job. If everybody does their job and there’s no mistakes made the rest of the year, I think we have a good shot at winning the championship.”

WEBER RE-UPS WITH RED BULL

The Formula One Red Bull team did not wait around to re-sign Mark Webber — the winner on Sunday at The British Grand Prix.

The team inked the 35-year-old Australian to a contract extension through 2013 after word leaked out that Ferrari may have been interested in having Webber replace Felipe Massa next season.

“I’ve been with Red Bull Racing since 2007 and have nine grand prix wins during that time,” Webber said in a team statement.

“I’m high on confidence at the moment and firing on all cylinders. I know the team well and I’m very comfortable here; we have grown together over the years and it feels like absolutely the right thing to stay with Red Bull for another season.”

Webber is second in the 2012 F-1 world championship — just 13 points behind Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso — and has finished third for the past two seasons.

“It’s great to be able to make this announcement off the back of the win in Silverstone at the weekend and I’m looking forward to competing on the edge and pushing myself in every race again next season.”

Red Bull appears content to keep Webber as partner with double world champion Sebastian Vettel.

Red Bull racing boss Christian Horner said it was logical move to keep the team together.

“There was a strong desire from both sides to continue the partnership,” Horner said. “It was a logical decision to extend our relationship and it is with great pleasure we confirm Mark will drive for us in 2013.”


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