IndyCar » 25 March 2013
James Hinchcliffe, Andretti Autosport - Q&A
It hit me because it was a tremendous amount of responsibility I felt to honor Dan and do a good enough job to honor what he would have done in this car.
So to get the first win here in his hometown with his family here, who I've grown quite close to, it means so much more, to be honest. There's nowhere that I would have rather had my first win I don't think in this car than right here in St. Pete.
Where were you when you got that call?
I was sitting at home contemplating life, thinking about what I was going to do in university (laughter).
Did you get a chance to speak to any of the Wheldon family afterwards?
Yeah, I saw Holly. Holly and I are quite close. My girlfriend and her have become best friends.
It's just so awesome. They've been so nice to me, so accepting of me being in this car. They feel like family now, they really do. It was a huge relief for me because before it was announced I guess someone let the Wheldons know. I got a text from Holly saying, Is it true you're going to be in that car? I was so glad she texted me because I wanted to talk to her about it. She said the Wheldons couldn't think of anybody better and they're fully supportive of you.
I said, My trailer is your trailer, this is your car as much as anything. They've been huge supporters of me.
Last 10 laps in particular, since the race was extended from last year, any extra concerns with you on blacks and him on reds?
Yeah. It was kind of funny because they extended the race trying to eliminate fuel-saving racing. Street courses, cautions, the way it all plays out, we ended up saving fuel for the last stint by a good chunk. If it had been 10 laps shorter, we would have been flat out in the last 10. Ironic the way it unfolded.
I was trying not to focus that they added laps. At the end of the stint I didn't think I would be leading with 10 to go. I didn't think it was going to be an issue.
You had vibration early on in the first stint. What was that?
We were really rough on the red tires. It was a pretty big factor in the decision to run blacks in the final stint there. Just as the first stint went on, it just sort of developed a vibration, a sign of excessive wear. Nothing wrong with the tire, just the way our car was handling it.
When we did the second stint, the blacks were more consistent, even though they weren't quite as quick. When we figured out how long the last stint was going to be, we had a used set. Obviously other guys did reds, held on with them. I don't think our car could have done that. The decision to throw the blacks on at the end is absolutely what I think gave us the win here today.
What is it about you and [race engineer] Craig [Hampson]?
He comes with so much experience. He's been in the sport 20 years. He's probably the most decorated engineer on pit lane. What I like about Craig is just how honest he is. Drivers and engineers have a tremendous habit of being completely full of BS and blaming everything on other people. He's the first engineer I've worked with that when it was absolutely his fault, he was the first guy to put up his hand and admit it, and he was harder on himself that anybody else could have been.
That work ethic he brings to a program is just incredible. It motivates everyone around him. I'm working harder than I did last year. I thought I was doing a pretty good job last year. He brings that whole extra level. It's just that last little bit you need to be at the front in this series.
Thank you, everyone. Congratulations, James, on the win.
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