TUSC: Ryan Dalziel feeling “robbed” after Sebring runner-up

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Going into the final hour of yesterday’s Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, Extreme Speed Motorsports and its No. 1 HPD ARX-03b, driven at the time by Ryan Dalziel, was ahead of the pack.

But with 51 minutes remaining, a full-course yellow came out for a car stopped on the track – just after the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley/Ford Ecoboost Daytona Prototype of Marino Franchitti had pitted under green.

While Dalziel and the rest of the leaders pitted under yellow for fuel, the Ganassi No. 01 stayed out to take the lead. Dalziel wound up second for the restart with 21 minutes left, and Franchitti promptly pulled away from him en route to the eventual win.

That caused the Scotsman to tweet out his frustration over the finish, going as far to say that he felt “robbed” by the outcome.

Dalziel also told MotorSportsTalk’s Tony DiZinno afterwards: “I never saw the car off. But I’ve never known GRAND-AM or [the American Le Mans Series] to throw competition cautions before.”

Still, he noted the mix of Prototypes in the Top 4 finishing positions: Ganassi’s DP, his team’s P2 car, the third-place No. 5 Action Express DP, and the fourth-place P2 from OAK Racing.

“I don’t know how anybody could’ve complained about that,” he said. “It just would’ve been nice if it was a P2, [then a DP in second], but it wasn’t.”

Dalziel also felt that his time behind the wheel of the No. 1 ESM machine (which he shared with ex-IndyCar man Scott Sharp and David Brabham) was solid.

He additionally sounded off on the multiple first-half wrecks that marred the event, which included two major crashes in the Prototype Challenge category.

One of those PC incidents saw Alex Tagliani slam into Gaston Kearby after the latter lost control of his car and then attempted to spin himself back in the right direction.

Unfortunately, Kearby spun into the racing line and “Tag” was unable to keep from hitting him. Both drivers came out of it OK, but it was still a lowlight of the afternoon.

“The first part of the race was – it’s always the same with these big races, it’s no different at Daytona – when you get to the halfway point, all the crap cars and idiots make mistakes for themselves and take themselves out of the race,” Dalziel explained.

“Much like the couple of big incidents we had today – they were people where it was just waiting to happen…You’re thankful no one is hurt but on the other hand, you almost are relieved the cars are out of the race.

“Unfortunately, they took a couple of competitive cars with them, but I think [with the bigger car count], we’re gonna face that all year and we’re gonna have to deal with it.”

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

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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.