IndyCar: Hinchcliffe threads the needle, then sews up first podium of year


Today’s Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course could have ended right after it had begun for James Hinchcliffe.

When Tony Kanaan spun out in the middle of the track on the opening corner, the field behind the Brazilian scattered everywhere in a bid to avoid his car.

One of them was Hinchcliffe, who started 17th on the grid and had to “thread the needle” between multiple cars, then avoid Kanaan to his outside at the exit of the turn.

Needless to say, things were pretty tight…

But Hinchcliffe made it out in one piece and even better, he had improved all the way to sixth. The Andretti Autosport driver would rise even further before coming home third in today’s race to claim his first podium finish of the 2014 IndyCar season.

“Obviously, it was nice to finally get a break in the United Fiber and Data car and get on the podium,” he told NBCSN afterwards. “This start was manic, man. I kinda went down into [Turn] 4 there and the seas kind of part before me.

“I feel bad for the guys that got involved in that wreck, but obviously it opened a door for us and we were able to take advantage.”

Hinchcliffe hovered around that sixth place position for the middle stages of the race, but on his final stop at Lap 67, Hinchcliffe was able to come out ahead of pole sitter Sebastien Bourdais in second place.

Bourdais would eventually move around the Canadian for P2, but Hinchcliffe would not give up easily. As Scott Dixon pulled away with the lead, Bourdais and Hinchcliffe took up an extended battle for runner-up honors before Bourdais finally won out.

But Hinchcliffe ended a stretch of 15 races without a podium, earning his first such result since finishing third in Race 2 of last year’s Houston doubleheader.

“The car was really fast,” Hinchcliffe said. “We were running off some really good lap times there. We got caught behind a couple of guys. At some point, we might have been able to pick one more spot up.

“I’m really proud of the United Fiber & Data guys…Great in the pits, awesome car. Fun driving with Sebastien there in the end.”

And like Bourdais, Hinchcliffe was sure to congratulate Dixon for notching his fifth career win at Mid-Ohio.

“I don’t know why they don’t just give him the trophy when we get here on Thursday,” he quipped.