Schmidt Peterson Motorsports home town hero James Hinchcliffe will start his home race, the Honda Indy Toronto from sixth place on the grid having made it into the Firestone Fast 6.
The Oakville native had initially qualified in seventh place however was promoted into the Firestone Fast Six following Esteban Gutierrez accident in the dying seconds of the Firestone Fast 12 session. Hinch will start the race just behind series points leader Scott Dixon and just ahead of Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden.
Speaking following the session, Hinch who is hoping for another strong performance in front of his home crowd following his podium here last year commented by saying:
It’s always tricky qualifying here. This track is one of the those with all the surface changes and where the walls are, it’s tough to get that lap on the reds (Firestone alternate tires). We caught a break in Segment 1 because we were on our fastest lap outside of the top six when Esteban [Gutierrez] had his accident. That obviously knocked him back and put us through to the next round. Then we were on our out lap in Segment 2 when the red (flag) came out which set up the one-lap dash, and I just committed everything I had into that last lap and I snuck into the Firestone Fast Six. I’m really proud of the SPM Arrow guys – top six two years in a row, and last year we turned it into a podium, so let’s hope for more of the same tomorrow.”
Hinch’s new team mate in the No.7 Lucas Oil Honda Sebastian Saavedra will stat the race from 20th place and was disappointed with his session, however is hoping that help from Hinch and Mikhail Aleshin with the car will enable him to move forward in the race on Sunday:
I’m disappointed, of course… feeling bittersweet because I’m very excited to be here, but at the same time, we had a lot more in the No. 7 Honda-powered machine (in qualifying). I just felt that I waited a bit too long on that red (Firestone alternate tire) stint, which hurt us with the red flag. We probably could have battled with (James) Hinch(cliffe) or (Ryan) Hunter-Reay. I don’t think we would have been quicker than Hinch, but I think we had the potential to be up there. The big progression we’ve had in only three sessions has been incredible, so huge thanks to the whole Schmidt Peterson Motorsports organization. They’ve made me feel at home and helped me get the rust off and get up to speed so quickly. I’m looking forward to the race tomorrow; it’s a long race and I’m very satisfied with the car we’ve put together. We’ll see what happens, maybe with some weather, it should be fun.