This week's IndyCar Series test at Indianapolis Motors Speedway provided James Hinchcliffe with his first opportunity to run a lap at speed on the track where he was seriously injured in a crash during practice last year.
The Canadian missed not only Indianapolis 500, but also the remainder of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season as he recovered from multiple surgeries after a suspension piece pierced an artery in his thigh. Unsurprisingly, the fan favourite couldn't wait to put the mishap completely in his rear view mirror.
Hinchcliffe is driving full-time again in 2016, but he says the circle wouldn't be complete until he successfully conquered turn three at IMS once again. That opportunity came on 6 April in the Verizon IndyCar Series' aero test, which gave most teams and drivers a chance to get the feel of their respective manufacturers' superspeedway aero kit configurations for 2016.
"I think, until you come back to Indy and get those first laps under your belt and get through turn three incident-free, then I think it will be fully closed," Hinchcliffe said prior to the test, "I'm 99.9 per cent of the way there. I just need a couple of hot laps through three and I'll be good to go."
Test completed without any further misadventure, Hinchcliffe was happy with his day.
"Everyone was going to be thinking about it until we got out here and ran some laps," he said, "It's always nice to be back at the Speedway; we all say that all the time and it's extra nice to be able to go around at pace today.
"Sitting out last year was tough. Getting to watch all my friends and colleagues go do the greatest race on earth and have to be watching from the sidelines is a big blow, for sure. This is our Super Bowl, this is what we really put as much attention on as anything else. Of all the ones to miss, it's the hardest. To get the opportunity now to come back, it definitely feels a little more rewarding."