Hinchcliffe grabs 1st victory since near-fatal 2015 accident

Rosalie Stanley
Апреля 13, 2017

He's seeking his first IndyCar Series victory since 20014.

Will Power speeds through turn 10 in the IndyCar Series Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Scott Dixon qualified second for Chip Ganassi Racing and was followed by Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport, and James Hinchcliffe of Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports.

The Andretti Autosport racer had been very competitive throughout the 85-lap race, leading 28 laps altogether before losing that advantage to Hinchcliffe during their final round of pit-stops.

If they keep producing finishes like they have in the first two races, he won't be able to call them upsets much longer.

Sebastien Bourdais pours champagne on James Hinchcliffe following his victory of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. That victory came just a month before his life-threatening crash during practice for the Indy 500. He had a pole-winning run at the Indianapolis 500 previous year that cemented his return, but he still needed a victory. Of the 19 drivers with experience at Long Beach, 15 have finished inside the top 10 at the 1.98-mile, 11-turn circuit.

"After Indy and, personally for me, for (driving in) Toronto, this is the biggest (race) to win", Hinchcliffe said.

Penske drivers have won seven of the last nine poles at Long Beach, and Saturday's run was the 48th career pole for Castroneves.

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"It is great to get my first podium for the Captain (Roger Penske) and now our next step is a win", said Newgarden. Bourdais, who won the season opener at St. Petersburg three weeks ago, won this race three times in a row from 2005-2007 and Power won in 2008 (the last Champ Car-sanctioned points race) and 2012.

The Team Penske driver held off five Hondas to secure the top starting spot Sunday on the temporary street course through Long Beach. With late issues plaguing Andretti Autosport frontrunners Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi, Bourdais himself behind only eventual race victor James Hinchcliffe in the last five laps. The front tires were a bit of an issue. And then the puncture killed our race with less than six laps to go.

Dixon said on a circuit where passing was hard, it wasn't ideal to hand the lead over to his rivals. "Last year's Indy 500 probably caught a lot of attention from a younger group, and I think there's more room for us to grow". "I feel we're going to be good". The track has been repaved and it will be the first time an Indy auto has tested there so it's an important test. Then, once we had sat (in the runoff) for a few moments, we tried flipping a few switches and it fired back up again but it was too late to rejoin the race. "You know, if he can get rewarded for his commitment to the series, it's awesome". At least he could focus on what was ahead though, as temporarily he'd be protected from Bourdais, Newgarden, and Dixon by the lapped cars of Power, Chilton, and Daly. Talking to him prior to the season, he told me he wants to win and compete on the road and street course. "I was really trying to hang on to second place".

One theme touched on by the drivers was how competitive this IndyCar field is these days.

"At the end of the race, we all were bunched back up because of that last yellow", Hildebrand explained.

"He hit the brake a lot earlier than I was expecting", Hildebrand said.

"In doing so, it ripped the steering wheel from my hand and I ended up tweaking (the hand)".

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