Happy birthday to IndyCar’s Canadian comedian and newsmaker, Mayor Hinchcliffe

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We wish James Hinchcliffe a happy 28th birthday today, as the Oakville, Ontario native who joins Schmidt Peterson Motorsports for the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series has been in the news a lot recently.

To recap what he’s already done this offseason, he presided over Charlie Kimball’s wedding, he announced his switch to SPM, expanded on what it will mean to be SPM team leader, raced with a bunch of media folks on a beer bar/bicycle and talked a lot about his own brew, Hinchtown Hammer Down, from Flat 12 Bierworks.

Oh, and he’s also taken electronic dance music (EDM) superstar Deadmau5 in a two-seater ride at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, then raced him in a similar Honda Fit.

But that merely serves as the preamble for more news he’s been making in Indianapolis recently.

THE MAYOR’S A HOMEOWNER

Hinchcliffe told me during the IndyCar postseason celebration in Los Angeles he was expecting to buy a house this offseason – this was before we knew whether he’d stay with Andretti Autosport or make the move to SPM.

He can check that box off the list. Earlier this week he moved into a new house, and posted a pic to Instagram. That’s below.

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Home ownership. Ain't it grand?! @kirst_dee

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HE’S PLAYING SANTA AND VISITING THE RILEY HOSPITAL FOR KIDS

Hinchcliffe recently helped the Heroes Foundation’s Team JOEY Program deliver LEGOs to children fighting cancer at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health. Video from IndyCar is below, too.

HIS BREW HAS MADE NATIONAL MAGAZINES

More on Hinchtown Hammer Down – and Hinchcliffe’s own goals for improving into 2015 after a tough 2014 – comes in this nice piece for Men’s Journal.

HE WANTS MORE CANADIAN RACES

While embarking on a heavy traveling run, hitting Chicago, Calgary and Fort John, B.C. among other places – while supporting his new team co-owner and countryman Ric Peterson’s Oculus trucking company – Hinchcliffe made the plea for additional Canadian races on future IndyCar schedules.

Since Edmonton left the calendar after 2012, a doubleheader in Exhibition Place in Toronto has served as the lone Canadian stop on the schedule. Over the last 20 years, Edmonton, Montreal, Mont-Tremblant, and Vancouver have also served as homes for North American open-wheel races besides Toronto.

“The next thing for us to try to get a race (in Calgary),” Hinchcliffe told the Toronto Sun’s Dean McNulty. “That would mean a lot to everybody on the team.

“I am 100% in on getting Calgary an IndyCar race. In fact, I think we should have three races in Canada and I feel a second one (in Calgary) is realistic. The level of passion for IndyCar racing in Canada has not decreased.”

HE’LL BE SADDLING UP AND TESTING SOON

Davide Valsecchi stole the headline as he announced his own participation in a December 16 test at Sebring with SPM, but that day will also mark Hinchcliffe’s first run with SPM. As yet, his engineer has not been publicly identified with Ben Bretzman departing for Team Penske with Simon Pagenaud.

Hinchcliffe said while he welcomes the Italian in his first ever IndyCar test, he’ll have to focus on his own program first.

“In all honesty, in that scenario, since nothing is signed for who that teammate is going to be and with me coming in, I’m gonna have to be selfish,” Hinchcliffe said as nicely as possible during a recent interview with NBCSN IndyCar pit reporter Kevin Lee and the Indianapolis Star‘s Curt Cavin on Trackside, on 1070 AM The Fan in Indianapolis.

“I’ll have a lot to do to gel with my guys. I’ll help Davide out where I can, but it’s not a done deal. If he’s not the teammate, it could be time misspent. It’s shocking where we get to practice less and they took more days away form us. I’ll focus on my program until they nail down the second car.”

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III