James Hinchcliffe has admitted that nothing less than victory will do as he heads to new Jersey Motorsports Park this weekend for the ninth round of the season.
The 21-year-old Canadian goes into the weekend eager to return to winning ways with Jonathan Bomarito and Jonathan Summerstone – the two men ahead of Hinchcliffe in the standings – having won the last five races between them.
Hinchcliffe had been the man to beat in the title race but surrendered his title lead to Bomarito at Road America early last month after an off-key double-header weekend saw him finish fifth and eighth in the two races. In contrast Bomarito and Summerton split the wins at the famed Elkhart Lake track.
Back on home soil for round eight at Trois-Rivieres in mid-August, an early-race clash with countryman Kevin Lacroix left Hinchcliffe with just a solitary point from the weekend as he was forced to retire for the first time this season – and means he goes to New Jersey 36 points behind Bomarito in the standings.
“We're heading into the final three races of the year and without doubt it's our turn to get back on top,” he said. “We had a pretty rough August by our standards at Road America and Trois-Rivieres so we're really in a position now where if we're not winning races we're not going to have a shot at winning the championship. As a result we've changed our approach slightly. We're no longer targeting strong points finishes; we're after race wins, simple as that! I think we've made some gains on the engineering front to try and get the car a little more suited to my style which will hopefully allow me to attack more.
“I know we all go racing to win but at this point of the season and with the way the championship's shaped out, it's looking a bit like Jonathan's [Bomarito] title to lose. He's the one with the target on his back so he might have to play things a little carefully as he has the most to lose. From our point of view, if we don't leave New Jersey with a win and he's up on the podium again, it pretty much writes off our chances. We're going all out to end the season on a high starting with this weekend!”