Despite crash last year, Hinchcliffe looks forward to Detroit return

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If anybody got the worst of the deteriorating track conditions that overshadowed last year’s IZOD IndyCar Series event at Detroit’s Belle Isle Park, it was Andretti Autosport’s James Hinchcliffe. Problems with the track surface had been noticed very early in the race, but the event proceeded along until Hinchcliffe slammed the Turn 6 tire barriers on Lap 39 (pictured) after a large piece of sealant that had been pulled up from the track got stuck in his No. 27 GoDaddy Chevrolet.

The incident left the normally cheerful Canadian extremely agitated.

“The [expletive] track just came up,” Hinchcliffe yelled over radio communications with his team that were captured in last year’s TV broadcast. “They leave that big piece of track just sitting there, and look what happened! What the [expletive]?”

However, Hinchcliffe maintains that he is looking forward to a return to the Motor City this weekend and has been pleased with the effort by Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit organizers to revitalize the Belle Isle circuit – which includes a longer re-configuration of the track. He visited Belle Isle earlier this season to check out the improvements for himself.

“Obviously, last year wasn’t the best race for us, but having visited the site earlier this year and seeing the renovations and the updates, I really can’t wait to get back,” he said.

“The organization there has done an incredible job revamping the place after the event last year and the new configuration, I think, is going to suit our cars and our racing a whole lot better.”

As for the matter of taking on IndyCar’s first-ever doubleheader weekend – the series will stage 70-lap events this Saturday and Sunday – Hinchcliffe admitted that while he wasn’t sure how it would work out, he recognizes the need to provide more excitement and value for the fans.

“When you put [the track improvements] together with the fact that it’s the first doubleheader, it something that we know nothing about,” he continued. “I’d be lying if I didn’t have some apprehension about it, but at the same time, new things bring excitement. Looking forward to getting there and seeing how this new format unfolds.

“More than anything, hopefully it’s a good show for the fans because that’s what it’s all about.”

Hinchcliffe currently sits fifth in the championship, 40 markers behind teammate and new IndyCar points leader Marco Andretti.

Malcolm Stewart sidelined by knee surgery for ‘extended duration’

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The knee injury that kept Malcolm Stewart from mounting up for Anaheim 2 will require surgery and he will be sidelined for “an extended duration” of the Monster Energy Supercross season, according to the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team.

“I just wanted to give you guys an update,” Stewart said on Instagram. “It’s not the news you guys want to hear, but I took a spill last week and hurt my knee pretty bad to the point that we’re going to have to get surgery done.

“I’m definitely bummed out about it; I felt we were riding pretty good and were just now starting to get the ball rolling, but it is what it is.”

Stewart’s season started with high expectations until accidents in the first two rounds left him 15th in the standings.

He ended 2022 on a high note, finishing a career high third in the Supercross standings. He then missed the start of the Pro Motocross season with another knee injury.

The 2023 season appeared to live up to his expectations. Despite back-to-back accidents, Stewart contended for podiums at both Anaheim 1 and San Diego. He won his heat at San Diego.

“It was very tough to receive the news that Malcolm will need to undergo knee surgery,” Nathan Ramsey, Team Manager for the Husqvarna team said in a press release. “He has worked so hard to be in a position to win races this year and I truly believe he was ready.

“The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing program will support him in every way that we can through his recovery and we can’t wait to get him back on track and back at the races.”

Stewart joins 250 rider Jalek Swoll on the sidelines after he broke an arm in a practice session. Swoll will be relieved by Talon Hawkins beginning this week at Houston, Texas.

A replacement rider has not been announced for Stewart, which means the focus shifts to his 450 teammate Christian Craig, who currently sits 12th in the standings with three top-15s in the opening rounds.