Jun 01

Hinchcliffe holds sixth with Milwaukee finish

James Hinchcliffe’s oval education continued at the weekend

The Canadian claiming his best finish to-date in the discipline courtesy of a seventh place finish in Sunday’s sixth round of the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights Series hosted at The Milwaukee Mile, Wisconsin. 

As a result the Sam Schmidt Motorsports rookie holds onto his sixth place standing in the title fight having collected 26 more points to add to his season’s tally in Milwaukee. 

James Hinchcliffe in Sam Schmidt Motorsports – Firestone Indy Lights Series

The 22-year-old, already with two podium finishes to his credit this year, bounced back from a disappointing retirement at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway the previous week to put himself back in the mix in IndyCar’s official feeder series.

A solid practice form around the one-mile oval didn’t quite translate come qualifying on Saturday afternoon. 

The luck of the draw saw the Toronto-native’s name pulled out first to set a qualifying time – a less than ideal scenario but one which had to be dealt with despite the disadvantages of being first on-track.

While ‘Hinch’ ended up with the tenth fastest time from the session, a slight ‘moment’ at Turn 2 effectively ended his crack at a pole-challenging time.  Confident that he had a faster car than showed on paper, Sunday’s race start allowed James to move up the order, immediately gaining two spots as the green-flag waived.

An intense battle with his team-mate, and former Indy Lights Champion, Wade Cunningham followed.  The pair diced for much of the race with the Kiwi racer edging his Canadian rival to hold his spot. 

Struggling for grip in the later stages of proceedings, Hinchcliffe wasn’t as fast as he’d have liked but he remained comfortably locked inside the top-ten, taking seventh at the checkered and his best oval finish to-date. 

Brazil’s Mario Romancini claimed the win after 100-laps ahead of series points leader, America’s J.R. Hildebrand and Colombia’s Sebastian Saavedra.

“It’s good to get a decent oval finish under my belt but we need to start doing better,” stated Hinchcliffe. 

“The points leaders were all up there in the race which makes it a bit harder to gain ground but hopefully another strong finish in Iowa will get me back into the top-five.  I’d like to end this oval stretch with another decent result then we get back to road-course racing which will be a lot of fun, not least as we’re heading to Canada, home turf for me, with races in Toronto and Edmonton!”

Round 7 of the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights Series sees the field head to the Iowa Speedway, Iowa for the fourth straight oval event on Saturday 20th June.

Top-6 Indy Lights Drivers – R6/15:

1st Hildebrand 198pts,
2nd Saavedra (COL) 188pts,
3rd Romancini (BRA) 179pts,
4th Cunningham (NZ) 163pts,
5th Summerton (USA) 162pts,
6th HINCHCLIFFE (CAN) 156pts
More information: www.hinchtown.com (photos: Mike Levitt, LAT)

source: James Hinchcliffe