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SPROTT DRIVER HINCHCLIFFE EARNED HIS BEST START OF THE SEASON WITH THIRD FOR THE KENTUCKY INDY 300

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James Hinchcliffe, No. 06 Sprott Dallara/Honda/Firestone: “We rolled the dice a little bit and tried to peel extra downforce off the car. We weren’t sure if we were going with light downforce or be a bit safer and we decided to split the two cars. When we saw how well Oriol ran with more downforce we figured we would be all right. He came by and told me the car was really good and that gave me a little more confidence knowing that he ran well. It is a great job for Newman/Haas; I’m really happy for the boys. It’s a very good effort for us. I love coming to this race track. Its one of the first ovals I had a chance to drive on and it’s my favorite 1.5 mile oval. We weren’t sure what to expect here after Texas which was probably our worst event of the year so far. The guys did a lot of work and a great job to get us to this point. I’m pretty happy for us to be sitting where we. Honestly, I felt better with our race car than I did with our qualifying car so hopefully that bodes well for us tomorrow.”

FAST FACTS: James earned his best start of the season with third and the best for NHR here…This will be his first race in an Indy car here and third overall. He competed in two Firestone Indy Lights races. In 2009 he started fifth, led two times for a total of 20 laps but finished seventh after a late race spin. He started sixth and finished second in 2010. His highest oval start/finish of the season is fourth at New Hampshire …Toronto native Hinchcliffe, 24, finished second in the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season standings after three wins and four poles. In total he earned eight podium finishes in 13 races…Is ranked 16th with a total of 255 points and is 14 behind Rookie of the Year leader Hildebrand (258) despite missing the season-opener (missed St. Pete).

NHR IN KENTUCKY: Newman/Haas Racing has competed here three times. In 2010 Hideki Mutoh qualified 5th and finished 17th for the team. In 2009, Graham Rahal started 10th based on entrant points due to “weepers” but hoped to qualify much higher based on winning pole at a similar track (Kansas; previous 1.5 mile track). He finished fifth in what he called “his best car on an oval ever” at the time. Robert Doornbos started 12th based on points and finished 19th after a pit problem. In 2008, the team’s first season in the series, Rahal started 20th and ran as high as 12th in the opening laps before gearbox failure ended his race after 28/200 laps and he retired in 25th. Justin Wilson started 19th and ran 16th before gearbox failure after 82/200 laps.