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Firestone Indy Lights: Chicagoland 100

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Chicagoland 100

Firestone Indy Lights: Chicagoland 100

James Hinchcliffe
August 28, 2010


THE MODERATOR: Congratulations to both of you on today's great finish, and we'll see you next week in Kentucky.
We are now joined by the winner of the Chicagoland 100, James Hinchcliffe of Team Moore Racing. This is James' third win this season. He previously won at Edmonton and Long Beach, and your first win in Firestone Indy Lights in an oval. Talk about that crazy race out there.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: You know, every year we come here, IndyCar Series comes here, this track just breeds incredible racing, and we knew this year was going to be no different. We unrolled off the trailer on Friday with a really good car, and practice went really well. We were good by ourselves, we were good in traffic.
But we had a fuel pump problem in qualifying so it started us back in 13th and sort of back in the mess at a track like this. You never quite know what's going to happen. But our car was just so solid, and we picked our way up to 6th place by that first caution, and from there just sort of went to town on trying to get up to people.
I can't say enough about my crew; to get the car fixed in time for the race after what happened in qualifying and just had such a good race going. Congrats to my spotter. He helped me out a ton, and it was just about being patient but aggressive when we needed to be. And it came down to that last lap, that typical Chicagoland close finish, and we were fortunate enough to come out on top, so I was just really proud of the whole team.
THE MODERATOR: You made some gains today in the Championship Chase there with JK Vernay. Talk about how important this finish is as you guys work towards the last two races in the season.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Yeah, for sure, the gap to JK coming in here was pretty big, and he still had a good run. He's really adapted to the ovals quickly, and he did a great job all day.
And congrats to Pippa and Phillip, as well. I got to race with them a lot today, and it was good; it was good, clean racing. But for sure it's great to, A, like you said, get that first oval win out of the way and make those gains on JK in the Championship. And with Charlie and Martin having a bad day, unfortunately for them it really helps cushion me in second place, as well.
So we got a bit of breathing room, and this was the one I was worried about. This one is sort of the lottery in terms of the last three races. I had a strong run at Kentucky last year, hoping for a good run there, and then we'll just see what plays out in Miami.

Q. Take us through the last two laps. How do you get around her?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Well, it was definitely tough to pass out there today with those top cars all running pretty close in times. Right before that last caution I actually let her across the line, but I guess on the next timing stripe into 1, she was back in front, so they put her in front for that restart.
I knew then from that experience what I had to do to try and get her at the line, and I waited with two laps to go to try and do it. I wasn't able to quite do it on the second to last lap, and I thought that maybe I had gone too early, but coming off 2, she tried to run me wide, and I think that maybe hurt her momentum a bit and just gave me what I needed.
Then the same thing off 4; she pushed me right up to the wall, just fair, hard racing, and then as she pinched it back down, I really had a good run down the banking all the way to the start-finish line there, and I think her trying to put me up wide there might have actually given me that extra little bit I needed to get down there.
It was good that we made the move when we did. If I had tried to make it on the last lap, I wouldn't have had enough steam, but we just managed to pull it off

Q. Were you at all worried when you realized it was you against the three Sam Schmidt cars?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Not really. I mean, obviously I drove for those guys last year; I know how good their cars are on ovals, and Pippa is a second year driver, so she's got a lot of experience on the ovals, and JK is obviously up to speed quick, and Philip, I hadn't really had a chance to run with him on the ovals yet this years, but he did a really good job. Those guys are all racing for themselves as much as anything, so I didn't really think there was going to be team orders or anything like that going on.
I think the restarts really helped us today. I think we were really strong on the restarts. We were able to hold that outside line and get up to speed quick, and I think that sort of helped us get around those top three guys because everybody was running so close in times, it was tough to just make a genuine pass all the way on track.

Q. It appeared like you said, five, six, seven cars were all running pretty much the same speed. This was probably one of the closest and I think one of the most competitive races you guys had run. It looked like everybody was running each other clean.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Yeah, I guess I didn't quite see what ended up happening there with Martin and Pippa, but I assume there was some sort of contact if Martin had a cut tire. I can't talk for that. I wasn't watching that part of the race.
But when I was up there with -- when it was Martin, Pippa, Philip and myself sort of running two by two for a bunch of laps there, it was all very clean, and for the most part guys were holding their lines. Like I said, it's a tough track here when you get into the pack. The cars move around a lot, and it really is important to give the guys you're racing with a little bit of room as hard as you're trying to race them at the same time. It's a careful balance, and I think everybody played really well today.

Q. How hard is it to control a car when you're running in twos?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: It's pretty damned hard, I'm not going to lie to you. It is not the easiest thing to do. Anybody who thinks he can just jump into a formula car around an oval and it's 100 percent flat-out racing, boring, no talent, they don't get it. I'll be the first to admit there were times in my career where I thought that's how it worked until I got in one. Especially these mile and a halfs; I mean, it is very difficult racing, and as soon as you get behind a car, you've got to be very careful about how much of your car you're sticking out in the air, how much you're keeping in the draft. It's all about timing, all about patience.
And the thing is with everybody running so close, if you just do one little 10 percent lift, you're losing two, three, four positions. It's not like on a road course; you can drop a wheel and not lose a single spot. Here one little mistake is going to be costly in terms of positions and it's tough to make those back up. It's very difficult when you're not the lead car, and it was -- I'm blessed that I had such a strong car today because starting back in 13th we had a lot of people to get around.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations on today's win. We'll see you in Kentucky.

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