IndyCar »

Hinchcliffe scores debut Lights podium.

The opening double-header round of the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights Series, saw Canada's James Hinchcliffe defy a lack of pre-season track time to grace the podium courtesy of a third place finish in Sunday's race on the streets of St Petersburg.

Combined with a solid sixth place finish from Saturday's first start, the 22-year old Toronto rookie now sits third overall in the standings, with 63 points, heading to the next event on the famed streets of Long Beach in two weeks' time.

Hinchcliffe was immediately amongst the frontrunners from a packed 27-strong Indy Lights field as the new season finally kicked off and, with qualifying split into two randomly-chosen groups due to the sheer number of entrants set the third and fourth fastest lap times in his two group outings. Although that ultimately translated into a fifth place start for Saturday's 40-lap race, and seventh for Sunday's outing, he put his head down and drove sensibly controlled races to make the most others' problems.

Saturday's race saw 'Hinch' combat a super slick track, as the Indy Lights race took place after an American Le Mans Series event, with the slippery conditions adding to a front-end problem, discovered after the race by the Canadian's Sam Schmidt Motorsports crew. Despite the challenging conditions, however, Hinchcliffe steered his way to sixth in the #7 Dallara.

Sunday's 72-mile sprint saw him behind the wheel of an improved car, but the tight confines of street racing didn't make things any easier. However, successfully managing his tyre wear and biding his time, he was eventually presented with opportunities as others ran into trouble. Quickly, Hinchcliffe rose through the order to take third - and his maiden Indy Lights podium - behind double race-winner Junior Strous and second-placed Saavedra.

“We might not have had the quickest car today, but we successfully steered clear of everyone else's incidents,” columnist 'Hinch' remarked, “The whole team, not least my engineer and mechanics, put in a huge amount of work between races to improve the car, so the podium was a just reward for all their efforts.

"We were fast at the end there so hopefully, we'll show up at Long Beach with a quick car straight off the back of the trailer. To the high standards set by Sam Schmidt Motorsports and myself, we had a below average weekend - but, to come away third in the points.... we'll take it and move on!”

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
James Hinchcliffe - Forsythe/Pettit Racing
Scott Dixon Road America
Scott Dixon - Chip Ganassi Indy Car [credit: IndyCar TV Twitter]
Will Power Texas
Charlie Kimball
Ed Jones feature
Ed Jones feature
Ed Jones
Ed Jones feature
Ed Jones feature
IndyCar, Dallara 2018 chassis, [Credit: IndyCar]
Graham Rahal Detroit celebration
Detroit IndyCar race start
Detroit IndyCar Andretti RHR
Esteban Gutierrez IndyCar Detroit
Graham Rahal Detroit IndyCar 2017
Takuma Sato Detroit IndyCar
Graham Rahal Detroit

Start the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.

© 1999 - 2017 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.