Edwards may not win Chase, but can close 2013 strong

Leave a comment

A Sprint Cup championship is probably too tall an order for Carl Edwards, who sits 76 points off the lead in the Chase with three races to go. But the Roush Fenway Racing driver can certainly establish himself as a contender for 2014 in the remaining events.

Edwards, who starts from the pole for tomorrow’s AAA Texas 500, has the most wins at Texas Motor Speedway among active Sprint Cup drivers with three (2005, sweep in 2008). Next up after Texas is Phoenix, where he snapped a 70-race winless streak back in March. Then comes the season-finale on Nov. 17 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where Roush Fenway squads have triumphed seven times.

As Edwards himself stated after winning the pole on Friday, he couldn’t have picked a better set of tracks to finish the year on. And that makes him confident that he and his No. 99 crew can get a proper headstart on next season.

“There is nothing we are not bringing to the race track equipment-wise and effort-wise, and we are coming to win,” Edwards said. “For us, it is really about gearing up for next season…There are a lot of things changing but overall it would help to keep the guys motivated and everyone looking forward. Wins would be great.”

“I love racing here [at Texas] and we ran really well at Phoenix, and Homestead, for some reason, perfectly suits me and the way our cars work and the engine. We should be really good. At the very least, we will have a good time and have some fun which is something that is easy to forget. That is a big part of it.”

Edwards was hoping for bigger things from his 2013 Chase after winning the last “regular season” race at Richmond back in September. But after starting out with decent results in his first two post-season events, a 35th-place finish (broken wheel hub) in Chase Race No. 3 at Dover effectively ended his bid for a title.

However, Edwards noted that the Chase has still been productive for Roush Fenway as a whole, as the group has realized the need to step it up against its competition.

“We recognize that we need to be better,” he said. “I think Greg’s run at Martinsville last week was a turning point for us. The speed he had was huge.

“I believe this pole and hopefully a solid run by not just me but Ricky [Stenhouse] and Greg [Biffle] and the whole Ford RFR camp will hopefully give those guys a little bit of something to show for all their hard work because they have been really working hard in the shop. Yeah, we recognize this Chase hasn’t gone well and it spurned a lot of hard work.”

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

Leave a comment

Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.