Cinema » Hinchcliffe Savoring Maiden IndyCar Victory
James Hinchcliffe Q&A
Hinchcliffe Savoring Maiden IndyCar Victory
Toronto, Ontario (March 27, 2013) – Canada’s James Hinchcliffe added his name to a prestigious list of drivers to have earned an IndyCar victory following a commanding performance at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday 24th March – the opening round of the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series.
The 26-year-old from Oakville raced the #27 GoDaddy.com Andretti Autosport Chevrolet to victory lane, where he proudly waved the Maple Leaf flag, following in the footsteps of previous Canadian IndyCar winners including Paul Tracy, Alex Tagliani, Greg Moore, Jacques Villeneuve, Patrick Carpentier and Scott Goodyear.
The 2011 IndyCar ‘Rookie of the Year’ and 2012 IndyCar ‘Fan Favorite’ can now add IndyCar race winner to his many monikers – a title ‘Hinch’ is only too comfortable with having accomplished a life-long goal.
Q: Describe the moment you took the checkered flag at St. Pete and the rush of emotion you presumably felt?
James Hinchcliffe (JH): “It honestly was quite overwhelming. Obviously when you’re driving the car you’re so focused, but as soon as I crossed the line it hit me what we had done and I was completely floored by it. There were definitely some tears in my helmet on the cool down lap.”
Q: Your car is probably one of the most recognizable in motorsport and it sports the famed #27, a number so close to many Canadian race fans. What, if anything, does the symbolism of all these parts mean to you both as a driver and a Canadian?
JH: “Well I easily drive the most recognizable car in racing and it’s such a pleasure to represent Go Daddy. Giving them their first IndyCar win was something I so desperately wanted to do to pay them back for everything they’ve done for me.
“To do it with the #27 was so much more special. That number carries such significance in Canadian motorsport from the first Canadian to qualify for the 500 to the Villeneuves, and to be able to keep up its heritage meant a lot.”
Q: You touched upon the emotional nature of Dan Wheldon’s association both with your car and obviously the St. Petersburg track and event. Is this a form of closure now to an extent, or is it a case of ‘pressure off’ now that you’ve taken that first victory?
JH: “I think in some ways there is closure there. I don’t think anyone doubts that Dan would have won in that car and I wanted to do that for him. The fact that it came at his home race with his family there just added to the emotional weight of it all. I don’t think I could have written a better script for getting that first win.”
Q: Re-starts and the ability to withstand amazing pressure in the closing stages of the race were undoubtedly key parts of Sunday’s race victory. Were you as cool inside the car as you looked racing it?
JH: “To be honest, it was all pretty straight forward in the car! Definitely the pressure from Helio at the end was the toughest part. From about 20 to go to 10 to go is when I started thinking we might have a chance and that’s when the pressure started building.
“I just knew that at that point his tires were past their prime and if I could just drive mistake free laps at the maximum we might be able to hold him off. Luckily there was enough of a gap on the last lap that I didn’t have to hold my breath the whole time…just half the time!”
Q: You’ve had tremendous support throughout your career, notably from your family, and from many others too. What’s been everyone’s reaction to your win and what does it mean to you moving forward now?
JH: “Obviously the reaction has been great. I’ve been so fortunate from the days I started karting right up to today with the support I’ve had from so many people, but none more so than my family. I was so happy that they were there to see this race and we could share that moment together because it really was the realization of a dream.”
Q: You rocketed back onto the front page of the Go Daddy homepage and you’ve made front-page headlines in Canada courtesy of your first IndyCar win. Are you comfortable being seen as Canada’s most recognizable face in motorsport?
JH: “I don’t think I’ll ever be comfortable seeing my face in the newspaper! But to be a representative for the sport I love for the country I love, yes, I can do that! The reaction back home has been brilliant and I just want to keep growing the sport and reminding people that Canada has a great heritage in racing and we need to maintain that.”
Q: So it’s Barber Motorsports Park up next. You qualified on the front-row there last season alongside Helio, you ran extremely well there in pre-season testing. Knowing you’re clearing running a competitive package – what’s your approach heading there now after your St. Pete success?
JH: “I think job number one is to completely forget about St Pete. It’s over, it’s done with. We need to focus on the areas that we struggled with at the test because, as always, Will was extremely quick. All St Pete has done is give us the confidence to know we can win and the hunger to go out and do it again. So that’s what we’ll be trying to do!”
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