James Hinchcliffe returned to racing in the Verizon IndyCar Series as the 2016 season roared to life on Sunday for the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg.
The Mayor of Hinchtown was back in the cockpit of the No.5 Arrow Electronics Honda racing for the first time since early last season after sitting on the sidelines for the 2015 season from a driving point of following his accident at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Hinch was however involved in the team by working at the factory with engineers and drivers and helping Conor Daly who filled in for him.
Daly is now a rival as he is racing for Dale Coyne. Hinch did a great job in qualifying putting the No.5 in eighth place however, The Mayor suffered a flat right rear tyre which put him on the back foot for the rest of the race, however far from giving up, Hinch grabbed the bull by the horns and during the race, Schmidt Peterson Motorsport tweeted this comical exchange between the Mayor and his engineer
We need a yellow to get your lap back. We just need to be patient.
Hinch replied with this:
I‘m a (Toronto) Maple Leafs fan. I know how to be patient.”(the last time Toronto won the Stanley Cup was 1967).
Hinch went on to finish the race in 19th place however despite the disappointing result he checked a box by completing his first race distance in over a year.
Speaking following his race, Hinch stated:
Certainly it wasn’t the day we planned. I joke that when you make plans from A to P going into the first corner at St. Pete and by Turn 1, they all go out the window. That was definitely the case for us. We got tagged and cut a tire, then ended up spending the whole race a lap down. We finally got the yellow we needed, got the lap back, just to get caught up in Turn 4 on the restart there.
He went on to describe the race:
There was some aggressive driving out there today but I guess that’s the first race and that’s what happens when a series is competitive. I’m happy for the progress we made on the car. I think we had a pretty decent fast lap there and we learned a lot about the new street course tire.