A trio of Hinch tidbits: Awaiting 2016 IndyCar teammate, returns to PIR, keen to try NASCAR

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There’s never a shortage of nuggets, material or insight you can glean from a conversation from the Verizon IndyCar Series’ resident court jester, four-time race winner and sole full-time Canadian driver in James Hinchcliffe.

As such, here’s a few tidbits of note from a driver who’s likely enjoyed some “Timbits” from Tim Horton’s over the years…

Hinch doesn’t have his 2016 IndyCar teammate set, and isn’t sure when he’ll know.

As Hinchcliffe returns to IndyCar full-time in 2016 after his injury-shortened 2015 season, there’s a somewhat decent chance he’ll have a new full-season teammate at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

When he finds out who that is, though, is anyone’s guess.

Hinchcliffe had Ryan Briscoe and Conor Daly replace him in the No. 5 Arrow/Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Honda the final 11 races this year, and while Daly would be a logical option in the second car, Briscoe’s 2016 IndyCar availability is limited to the month of May due to his new role with Chip Ganassi Racing’s Ford GT program.

James Jakes ran the full season in the second car this year, taking over from Russian Mikhail Aleshin, who made a promising one-off comeback at the Sonoma season finale.

Meanwhile Jakes’ fellow Brit Jack Harvey is another would-be contender, having tested successfully back in Sonoma in mid-August and working hard to find the budget for a step up to IndyCar from Indy Lights.

Each of the variable drivers intrigue Hinch, who diplomatically isn’t saying who he’d pick as a favorite.

“There’s a bunch of guys. I think,” Hinchcliffe told NASCAR Talk’s Nate Ryan at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“I enjoyed having James this year, and another year back might help him get back up to pace after a year off. Conor did a great job for us. Ryan did a great job for us.

“There’s some young guys… Jack Harvey did well obviously for Schmidt in the Lights program and he’s keen to move up. He did a really good job in Sonoma in the Lights driver day there. There’s a couple good options.”

Hinchcliffe said he didn’t know when team co-owner Sam Schmidt will be able to make a decision, and also says he isn’t as involved in the decision-making process as he wishes he could be. But if Schmidt and Ric Peterson can find a greater haul for the second car, it would negate the necessity to bring on a driver primarily down to budgetary reasons.

“Sam calls me and we talk about it, but it’s an economics thing a lot of the time,” Hinchcliffe explained. “He’s trying to find more sponsorship to help out with that program on the 7 car. We’ll see what he can achieve on the commercial side, because that determines what driver market you’re playing into.”

Hinch remembers short ovals are fast.

So after a day apiece at Road America, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and the Sebring short course, Hinchcliffe made his return to testing on a short oval last week at Phoenix International Raceway. Since he missed the oval schedule in 2015, this was his first short oval running since the Milwaukee Mile in August 2014 – a race that is now absent from the calendar in 2015.

“I hadn’t been on a short oval since August last year… so you forget things happen quick!” Hinchcliffe told Ryan. “It’s about the pace you carry. It’s a weird Milwaukee/Iowa/Pocono mix. It definitely keeps you on your toes. If we get the tire compound right, it should be a great race.”

Hinchcliffe also said he’d like to see another mile-and-a-half oval added to the schedule at some stage.

Hinch would like to try his hand at a NASCAR Xfinity Series road course race.

We mentioned this with Daniel Ricciardo and Dale Earnhardt Jr. late last month, that given the nature of the break in the F1 calendar in August 2016 that Dale Jr. has a JR Motorsports Xfinity car waiting for him if Ricciardo is able to.

Could Hinchcliffe be able to do the same?

He told veteran ace Canadian motorsports journalist Dean McNulty, who retired after Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series race, he’d love to get in an Xfinity car and with IndyCar having a similar break in August – IndyCar only races at Pocono August 21 – the timing is perfect.

“We have come close the past couple of years trying to put a program together so now with August pretty much open for IndyCar, the timing couldn’t be better,” Hinchcliffe told McNulty, via the Toronto Sun.

In a separate interview with NBCSN’s Rutledge Wood during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pre-race show, Hinchcliffe confirmed the interest and Rutledge came up with the idea of a hashtag for support – #GetHinchToTheGlen – which has already been picked up on.

Hinchcliffe joined Marco Andretti and Josef Newgarden as IndyCar stars making a cameo appearance at the Sprint Cup race.

Hinchcliffe also told Wood about seeing Gordon,“I am a big fan of racing and I am a big fan of Jeff Gordon, and there was just no way I was not going to be at his last race.”

He also joked about the fact he wore a No. 24 hat all of sixth grade and said, “I think everyone thought I didn’t have any other hats.”

Supercross 2023: Results and points after Houston


Eli Tomac led all 23 laps of the Monster Energy Supercross race at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas and the results show he now has three wins in the season and is one shy of tying Ricky Carmichael’s 48 for third on the all-time list. With this win, he takes a seven point lead in the standings with 12 rounds remaining.

For Tomac at Houston, it was literally a tale of two races. Both his heat and the main started the same with Tomac grabbing the holeshot, but he was passed quickly by Chase Sexton in the heat. Tomac faded quickly after getting passed and was trailing by almost eight seconds at the checkered flag, which caused him to retreat to the hauler and reassess his lines. Without making any adjustments to the bike, Tomac entered the Main with a new attitude, and simply rode better.

Supercross Results Houston
Chase Sexton played it safe in the sand, but he was aggressive in every other turn. – Feld Motor Sports

Sexton had so great a lead in his heat that one could not even use the cliche that he left Tomac in his dust. By the time the rider with the No. 1 plate crossed the same real estate as the No. 23, the dust was well settled. Sexton had a modest start on the initial gate drop and ended Lap 1 in fourth. He worked his way past Aaron Plessinger on Lap 3 and got around Jason Anderson three laps later. Sexton was able to catch Tomac and pressure him, but he picked a safe, i.e. slow line through the sand section and could never get alongside his rival.

RESULTS: Click here for 450 Results; Click here for full 250 East Main Results

After starting the season with back-to-back seventh-place finishes, Anderson now has a pair of podiums. He won his heat and was easily one of the top three riders in the field, ultimately finishing behind the riders who finished 1-2 in the other preliminary. Anderson was subdued on the podium – happy he was there, but disappointed he has not yet found a way around the riders he is chasing in the points.

In the early stages of the race, Plessinger appeared to have a bike capable of winning. He pressured Tomac on the first two laps and was setting up the pass just as a red flag waved for an injury to Dylan Ferrandis that brought out a red flag. He lost second to Anderson on the restart and eventually slipped to fourth to score his first top-five of the season.

Click here for 450 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier

Cooper Webb rounded out the top five. Along with Sexton, he is now one of just two riders with a sweep of that mark in 2023, but with Tomac’s three wins, he is beginning to slip in the points. Webb sits third in the standings, 12 points behind the leader.

Ken Roczen entered the race as the third rider with a sweep of the top five and progressively better results in the first three races of 2023. Had the pattern held, he would have finished at least second, but he struggled for most of the night, finishing fifth in his heat and eighth in the Main. There may have been extenuating circumstances, however. Ferrandis’ injury was suffered when he landed on the back of Roczen’s bike and potentially damaged the No. 94 Suzuki.

Click here for 450 Main results | Rider Points | Manufacturer Points | Lap Chart

The 250 East division made their 2023 debut in Houston, but the name atop the board was familiar. Hunter Lawrence joined his brother Jett Lawrence as the early points’ leader in their respective divisions, but it didn’t come without a little anxiety.

Riding behind Supercross newbie Tom Vialle on the second lap, Lawrence was forced to take evasive action when the leader pitched his bike sideways to scrub speed over a jump. Lawrence veered left and landed off course, but he cleared the Tuff Blox and kept his bike straight. Lawrence made the pass for the lead on Lap 18 and never relinquished it.

Click here for 250 Heat 1 | Heat 2 | Last Chance Qualifier

In his first attempt on a 250, Max Anstie ascended to the podium. – Feld Motor Sports

England’s Max Anstie made the move from 450s to 250s this year after scoring a best result of 11th on the big bike at Anaheim 2 last year. It didn’t take anytime at all to find the front for Anstie, who finished second in both his heat and main.

It has been a while since Jordon Smith stood on the podium: February 23, 2019 to be exact when he finished that well in Detroit. A series of injuries kept him off the bike for much of 2020 and 2021, but he’s proving to be a factor when he’s healthy.

Click here for 250 Main results | 250 East Rider Points | Combined Rider Points | Lap Chart

There was a lot of hype surrounding the debut of Haiden Deegan in the 250 class and he proved it was merited. He finished fourth in his heat and main. He was as far down as ninth at one point in the feature before slowly picking off riders on his way to the front.

Jeremy Martin finished fifth and now has a streak of three consecutive top-fives to his credit stretching back to last year. Unfortunately, his pair of strong runs in 2022 were interrupted by injury.

Making impressive debuts in the 250 division, Vialle recovered from a fall to finish seventh, Chance Hymas finished eighth, and Talon Hawkins just missed the top 10 with an 11th.

2023 Results

Race 3: Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen win
Race 2: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence win
Round 1: Tomac, Lawrence win

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings

Week 3: Ken Roczen takes the top spot
Week 2: Roczen moves up; Chase Sexton falls
Week 1: Eli Tomac tops 450s; Jett Lawrence 250s