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.”

IndyCar Detroit Grand Prix: How to watch, start times, TV, schedules, streaming


The NTT IndyCar Series will return to the Motor City for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix but with start times in a new location for 2023.

After a 30-year run on Belle Isle, the Detroit GP has moved a few miles south to the streets of downtown on a new nine-turn, 1.645-mile circuit that runs along the Detroit River.

It’s the first time single-seater open-cockpit cars have raced on the streets of Detroit since a CART event on a 2.5-mile downtown layout from 1989-91. Formula One also raced in Detroit from 1982-88.

The reimagined Detroit Grand Prix also will play host to nightly concerts and bring in venders from across the region. Roger Penske predicts the new downtown locale will be bigger for Detroit than when the city played host to the 2006 Super Bowl.

Here are the details and IndyCar start times for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach race weekend (all times are ET):


TV: Sunday, 3 p.m. ET on NBC and streaming on Peacock, the NBC Sports App and NBCSports.com. Leigh Diffey is the announcer with analysts Townsend Bell and James Hinchcliffe. Dave Burns, Marty Snider and Kevin Lee are the pit reporters. Click here for the full NBC Sports schedule for IndyCar in 2023.

Peacock also will be the streaming broadcast for both practices and qualifying.

POSTRACE SHOW ON PEACOCK: After the race’s conclusion, an exclusive postrace show will air on Peacock with driver interviews, postrace analysis and the podium presentation. To watch the extended postrace show, click over to the special stream on Peacock after Sunday’s race ends.


GREEN FLAG: 3:30 p.m. ET

PRACTICE: Friday, 3 p.m. (Peacock Premium); Saturday, 9:05 a.m. (Peacock Premium); Sunday, 10 a.m. (Peacock Premium)

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Combined

QUALIFYING: Saturday, 1:20 p.m. (Peacock Premium)

STARTING LINEUP: Alex Palou captured the first street course pole of his IndyCar career; click here for where everyone will begin Sunday’s race

RACE DISTANCE: The race is 100 laps (170 miles) on a nine-turn, 1.645-mile temporary street course in downtown Detroit.

TIRE ALLOTMENT: Seven sets primary, four sets alternate. Rookie drivers are allowed one extra primary set for the first practice.

PUSH TO PASS: 150 seconds of total time with a maximum time of 15 seconds per activation (Indy NXT: 150 seconds total, 15 seconds per). The push-to-pass is not available on the initial start or any restart unless it occurs in the final two laps or three minutes of a timed race. The feature increases the power of the engine by approximately 60 horsepower.

FORECAST: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 80 degrees with a 0% chance of rain.

ENTRY LIST: Click here to view the 27 drivers racing Sunday at Detroit

INDY NXT RACES: Saturday, 12:05 p.m. 45 laps/55 minutes (Peacock Premium); Sunday, 12:50 p.m. 45 laps/55 minutes (Peacock Premium)

INDY NXT ENTRY LISTClick here to view the 19 drivers racing at Detroit


(All times are Eastern)

Friday, June 2

8:30-9:30 a.m.: IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

9 a.m.: IndyCar garage opens

9:50-10:20 a.m.: Trans Am Series practice

11:40 a.m.-12:40 p.m.: IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

1-1:30 p.m.: Trans Am Series practice

1:50-2:40 p.m.: Indy NXT practice

3-4:30 p.m.: IndyCar practice, Peacock

4:50-5:05 p.m.: IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge qualifying

5:30-6 p.m.: IndyNXT qualifying (Race 1 and 2)

6-7:15 p.m.: A-Track concert (Hart Plaza Stage)

7:30-8:30 p.m.: Big Boi concert (Hart Plaza Stage)

Saturday, June 3

6 a.m.: IndyCar garage opens

8:15-8:45 a.m.: Trans Am Series qualifying

9:05-10:05 a.m.: IndyCar practice, Peacock

10:35-11:35 a.m.: Trans Am Series, 3-Dimensional Services Group Muscle Car Challenge

12:05-1:00 p.m.: Indy NXT, Race 1 (45 laps or 55 minutes), Peacock

1:15-2:45 p.m.: IndyCar qualifying, Peacock

4:10-5:50 p.m.: IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, Chevrolet Detroit Sports Car Classic (100 minutes), Peacock

5:30-7 p.m.: Z-Trip concert (Hart Plaza Stage)

7-8:30 p.m.: Steve Aoki concert (Hart Plaza Stage)

Sunday, June 4

7 a.m.: IndyCar garage opens

10:00-10:30 a.m.: IndyCar warmup, Peacock

11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.: Trans Am Series, 3-Dimensional Services Group Motor City Showdown

12:50-1:45 p.m.: Indy NXT, Race 2 (45 laps or 55 minutes), Peacock

2:47 p.m.: IndyCar driver introductions

3:23 p.m.: Command to start engines

3:30 p.m.: Green flag for the Chevrolet Detroit Prix, presented by Lear (100 laps/170 miles), NBC


ROUND 1Marcus Ericsson wins wild opener in St. Petersburg

ROUND 2Josef Newgarden wins Texas thriller over Pato O’Ward

ROUND 3: Kyle Kirkwood breaks through for first career IndyCar victory

ROUND 4: Scott McLaughlin outduels Romain Grosjean at Barber

ROUND 5: Alex Palou dominant in GMR Grand Prix

ROUND 6: Josef Newgarden wins first Indy 500 in 12th attempt 


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Alexander Rossi fitting in well at McLaren

Phoenix takes flight: Romain Grosjean enjoying the pilot’s life

Helio Castroneves says 2023 season is “huge” for IndyCar future

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Simon Pagenaud on why he likes teasing former teammate Josef Newgarden

HOW TO WATCH INDYCAR IN 2023Full NBC Sports schedule