News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 8, 2011

Hinchliffe looking forward to IndyCar's Canadian stops

Tom Reck
Tribune-Star Correspondent

TERRE HAUTE — James Hinchcliffe is looking forward to the next two IZOD IndyCar Series events to be run in his native Canada.

First up is Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto to be run on the streets of Toronto. Versus will carry the action live at 2 p.m. EDT.

That race will be followed by a July 24 race scheduled to be run at the airport in Edmonton.

Hinchcliffe is a rookie in the series, driving the No. 06 Newman Haas Racing car after finishing second in the Firestone Indy Lights Series last year for Moore Racing.

“I’ve been telling everybody that I have been coming to the [Toronto] race since I was 18 months old. I’ve had the chance to drive here in a few junior formulas. It’s going to be special this year to see the [main] race from a different seat,” he said on a teleconference this week.

“We have a sort of small population [in Canada] compared to other countries. When it comes to sports, we like to prove we can compete,” he said.

He says the support from fans in Canda has been “incredible” … the fans are very knowledgeable, very passionate. They just love cheering on the locals,” he said.

Hinchcliffe finished fourth at Long Beach earlier in the season. “We’ve had good cars in the street series. I hope for the same on Sunday,” he added.

In finishing second in the Firestone Indy Lights Series last year, he won at Toronto but had a DNF in Edmonton. “Winning at Edmonton was a highlight, rebounding from the Toronto race,” said Hinchcliffe.

Noting the high number of rookies in the IZOD IndyCar Series this year, he said being rookie of the year would mean a lot to the winner. He said making the transition from Indy Lights to the main series was not a big problem.

“The car was comfortable right away. The work load is more … it’s a huge learning experience. I’ve worked very hard to get to this point,” said the 25-year-old driver.

Marco Andretti won the last race in Iowa and will be looking for another top finish.

Dario Franchitti is the leader in the point totals and has won twice at Edmonton. Will Powers won a year ago.

• Sprint Week begins — The first stop on the U.S. Auto Club Indiana Sprint Week schedule is tonight at the I-69 Speedway at Gas City.

Tonight’s action will be followed by races Saturday at Kokomo, Sunday at Lawrenceburg, Wednesday at Terre Haute, next Thursday at Brownstown, next Friday at Bloomington and July 16 at Haubstadt.

Jon Stanbrough took Sprint Week honors a year ago. Other former winners in the field will be Dave Darland and Levi Jones. Jones and Darland each have won three times.

USAC sprint point leaders — Levi Jones 538, Jon Stanbrough 467, Hunter Schuerenberg 430, Chris Windom 414, Robert Ballou 407, Damion Gardner 403, Bryan Clauson 400, Bobby East 399, Dave Darland 358, Tracy Hines 321.

• Nuckles, Marietta 1-2 — At Indianapolis, Bryan Nuckles and Mario Marietta ran one-two in USAC midget racing Wednesday night at Bryant and Heating Cooling Speedrome.

Nuckles led the final 25 laps of the 50-lap main event to win the D1 Series feature. Marietta won his heat and led the first 25 laps of the feature in finishing second, moving to seventh in the series point totals.

Wednesday’s results

Heat winners — Mario Marietta, Ali Jackson.

Feature — Bryan Nuckles, Marietta, Morgan Nelson, Jake Blackhurst, Caleb Armstrong, Kyle O’Gara, Taylor Ferns, Jason Wolfe, Dave Fuhrman, Isaac Chapple.

• Rainout — At Clermont, rain and threatening weather forced cancellation of U.S. Auto Club sprint racing Thursday at Lucas Oil Raceway.