25 March 2013
James Hinchcliffe, Andretti Autosport - Q&A
No chance. No chance. What a difference 24 months can make. Even last year was such a difference in my first race with Go Daddy, Andretti Autosport. We qualified, finished in the top five. That was a good result for us. To come here 12 months later, especially when you think how our season ended, it was not a good end to our season. Fontana was just the worst, longest day of my life. It was so demoralizing going into the longest off-season in history with such a poor record finishing the season.
But we've got such a good group of guys on that car. It's all the same crew we had last year. These guys worked so hard. Chevy did such a good job over the winter to come here and grab that first win for those guys as much as Go Daddy, it's really cool.
Talk about holding up the Canadian flag in Victory Lane, what that meant to you.
For a small country population-wise, Canada produces some pretty good racing drivers. When you look at the list of guys from Canada that have made it to IndyCar, whether it's Scott Goodyear, Jacques Villeneuve, Craig Moore, Paul Tracy, Alex Tagliani, Patrick Carpentier, not only did these guys make it from Canada to IndyCar, every single one of those guys are winners. A lot of guys come from the UK or Brazil and never make it to that win. There was a lot of pressure put on myself, never externally, nobody back home ever said anything, but to continue that tradition of Canadian winners, not just Canadian drivers.
That weighed on my mind a lot ever since I got the chance to get into an IndyCar. So now to add my name to that list means an awful lot for me. I'm just proud to do it for Canada.
What was it that you did that caused Helio to go wide into turn one?
I'd like to say it was some masterful trickery. I think Helio got a little hot in there. It's tough. That late in the race, the inside line gets dirty. I had to restart from both the inside and the outside at different points in the race, and it's tough.
Being on new tires, on the outside, I was able to brake quite late. I saw him make the mistake and go wide. I'll wait a couple laps, he's on reds, I watched him walk away from me in the last stint. I figured he was going by. I was doing my own thing, trying to conserve my fuel and tires to make sure I could make it to the end. It's a long stint at the end of the race there.
10 laps into that stint, he's still there, but he's not attacking. So the big thing for me was just be absolutely inch perfect all the way around the track lap after lap. I knew I had a couple more overtakes, so that was going to help.
Yeah, at the end of the day it was just putting the focus in the right places at the right times. Those last four laps, like I said, we were able to gap it a bit and that's when it kind of became real.
Can you take us back to the day when Michael called you about the job. This was a car that Dan was supposed to drive. Danica had just left. The pressures. How did Michael call you?
Certainly I was shocked to get the call, if I'm honest. It wasn't that long after the end of the 2011. I hadn't even thought about the fact that somebody had to drive that car. I was kind of floored when I got that car, that my name was on the short list. It was quickly established that they wanted me in the car and I very much wanted to be in the car, with essentially having lost my ride at Newman/Haas when they closed.
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