Hinchcliffe wins chaotic, caution-filled inaugural IndyCar GP of Louisiana (VIDEO)


AVONDALE, La. – James Hinchcliffe emerged victorious from the chaotic, caution-filled and time-shortened Verizon IndyCar Series’ inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana, Round 2 of the season.

Unofficially, there were only 31 minutes of green flag time in 105 minutes (one hour, 45 minutes) of racing.

The race ended under its sixth full-course caution, with Hinchcliffe finishing ahead of Helio Castroneves, James Jakes, Simona de Silvestro and pole sitter Juan Pablo Montoya.  This is Hinchcliffe’s fourth-career win and first since Iowa in 2013.

Hinchcliffe played an off-sequence strategy to perfection in the No. 5 Arrow/Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Honda after starting 16th, having pitted on Lap 13.

Montoya led most of the opening stint, but wasn’t the dominant story.

On off-sequence strategies, the order changed when Hinchcliffe led Carlos Huertas, Castroneves, Jakes, Tony Kanaan and de Silvestro as of Lap 35 in the originally scheduled 75-lap race.

But time was an issue and the storyline throughout the race. The race was set for 75 laps, or 105 minutes (one hour, 45 minutes), whichever comes first. The halfway mark was to come at Lap 38, and the 53-minute mark.

After the opening 15 laps, full-course cautions became the constant from Lap 16.

The first yellow flew when Gabby Chaves spun in Turn 4, got stuck, and then got pushed back onto course by an apparent corner worker in a white shirt. Chaves, in the No. 98 Bowers & Wilkins/Curb Honda, promptly stopped on course shortly thereafter, and it spawned several memes on Twitter (see first and second examples of such, linked here).

Shortly after the first restart there was more carnage when Jack Hawksworth crashed in Turn 13 trying to avoid a spinning Jakes. Contact also occurred between Castroneves and Francesco Dracone.

“I was right behind him, he was really struggling. He spun on the last corner and I had nowhere to go,” Hawksworth told NBCSN’s Robin Miller. “What can you do? There’s nothing to say about that, other than wrong place, wrong time.”

Things got worse during the caution when Dracone spun in the pits and contacted his own crewmember. Todd Phillips, crew chief/outside front tire changer for his Dale Coyne Racing car, was being treated in care center for a cut to lower right leg.

The next restart occurred on Lap 28, but another yellow flew almost immediately when Stefano Coletti had a massive spin and shunt on the front straight. Coletti smacked into an armco barrier just past an opening but somehow, despite ruining the rear wing assembly, managed to keep going.

The yellows continued with Sage Karam causing two in a row, the first on Lap 32 being stuck in the gravel at Turn 5, and the second on Lap 41 when he stopped on course at Turn 13.

In-between the two incidents, a restart got delayed again when Huertas spun exiting Turn 13 while running second.

The final caution occurred following a multiple car accident on Lap 43, following another restart, when Ryan Hunter-Reay squeezed Simon Pagenaud off track entering Turn 4. Pagenaud then careened across the road, back into Hunter-Reay and Sebastien Bourdais. Each had varying opinions of the accident.

The last of these incidents is under review and subject to a post-race penalty.

Still, it ensured the race ended under yellow, which was perhaps a fitting end to the afternoon.


AVONDALE, La.- Results Sunday of the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana Verizon IndyCar Series event at the 2.74 mile NOLA Motorsports Park, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (16) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Honda, 47, Running
2. (4) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 47, Running
3. (22) James Jakes, Dallara-Honda, 47, Running
4. (18) Simona de Silvestro, Dallara-Honda, 47, Running
5. (1) Juan Pablo Montoya, Dallara-Chevy, 47, Running
6. (3) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 47, Running
7. (2) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 47, Running
8. (11) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 47, Running
9. (12) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Chevy, 47, Running
10. (9) Luca Filippi, Dallara-Chevy, 47, Running
11. (15) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Chevy, 47, Running
12. (14) Carlos Munoz, Dallara-Honda, 47, Running
13. (10) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 47, Running
14. (21) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Chevy, 47, Running
15. (17) Gabby Chaves, Dallara-Honda, 46, Running
16. (24) Carlos Huertas, Dallara-Honda, 46, Running
17. (20) Stefano Coletti, Dallara-Chevy, 44, Running
18. (19) Sage Karam, Dallara-Chevy, 44, Running
19. (7) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 43, Contact
20. (5) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Chevy, 43, Contact
21. (6) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 43, Contact
22. (13) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 39, Contact
23. (23) Francesco Dracone, Dallara-Honda, 23, Contact
24. (8) Jack Hawksworth, Dallara-Honda, 19, Contact

Race Statistics
Winners average speed: 71.995
Time of Race: 01:47:19.4896
Margin of victory: Under caution
Cautions: 6 for 25 laps
Lead changes: 3 among 3 drivers
Lap Leaders:
Montoya 1-13
Castroneves 14
Montoya 15-32
Hinchcliffe 33-47
Point Standings:  Montoya 84, Castroneves 74, Power 70, Hinchcliffe 65, Kanaan 63, de Silvestro 44, Jakes 43, Rahal 43, Filippi 42, Pagenaud 41.

Ryan Hunter-Reay hired as replacement for Conor Daly at Ed Carpenter Racing

Ryan Hunter-Reay Carpenter
Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ryan Hunter-Reay was named to replace Conor Daly in Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 20 Dallara-Chevrolet, starting in the NTT IndyCar Series event next week at Road America.

Hunter-Reay is the 2012 series champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner. He finished 11th for Dreyer & Reinbold last month in the 107th Indy 500, his first start since the 2021 season finale. He drove full time for Andretti Autosport from 2010-21.

“We need to improve our competitiveness and I wanted to add a fresh perspective from a driver like Ryan who has a massive amount of experience and success as well as a reputation as a team leader. I am excited to welcome Ryan to the team,” team owner Ed Carpenter said in a team release. “We have worked together in the past as teammates and he tested for ECR at Barber Motorsports Park in October 2021, where he made an immediate impact as we were able to qualify one of our cars on the pole following that test. I am confident that his experience and technical abilities will be an asset to ECR as we move forward toward our goals as a team.”

Hunter-Reay has 18 IndyCar victories, most recently in 2018. He also is a winner in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, having been a part of winning entries in the 2020 Twelve Hours of Sebring and 2018 Petit Le Mans. Last year, he was an endurance driver for Cadillac Racing while being on standby for Chip Ganassi Racing.

He replaces Daly, whose departure was announced a day earlier in what the driver and team said was a mutual decision.

“I was surprised when I got the call from Ed,” Hunter-Reay said in a team release. “He described how frustrated he was that his team has not been able to realize its potential despite their efforts, investments, as well as technical and personnel changes over the past few years and asked for my help. Ed and I are very close friends and have been for a long time. I’ve worked with the team in the past and they are a very talented group with high expectations and a committed partner in BITNILE.COM.

“This will certainly be a challenge for me as well. It’s a tough situation jumping in a car in the middle of the season without any testing in what I believe to be the most competitive series in the world. Certainly, part of my motivation in saying ‘yes’ to Ed is the great challenge ahead. The last time I turned right driving an NTT IndyCar Series car was in October of 2021 with this team at Barber. However, I remain very confident in both my driving and technical abilities and believe by working with the talented people at ECR and Team Chevy, while representing BITNILE.COM, we will make progress. I am going to do everything I can do to help the team achieve its long-term objectives.”

Said Milton “Todd” Ault, the chairman of sponsor BitNile.com: “It is great for BitNile.com to be aligned with an Indy 500 Winner and an NTT IndyCar Series champion. I have followed Ryan’s career for years and I am confident he will challenge the entire ECR team to perform at higher levels. I wish everyone luck at Road America.”