Hinchcliffe returns to Canada in search of year’s 1st win

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TORONTO (AP) A year after a life-threatening crash during practice for last year’s Indianapolis 500, Canadian James Hinchcliffe is back home and searching for his first victory of the season.

The 29-year-old Hinchcliffe said he is feeling good entering Sunday’s race.

“The craziest thing about it is I’m healthier, fitter now than I’ve ever been,” Hinchcliffe said Wednesday. “When you’re in a position like that, you start paying a lot for attention to yourself, to your body. And now I know a lot more about myself personally and physically.”

Hinchcliffe was badly injured during the practice session for the Indy 500 last year and in danger of bleeding to death before he was saved by crews at the track and doctors at a nearby hospital. He missed the rest of the season.

The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver does have five top-10 finishes entering the Toronto race, including a third-place finish at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis in May. He finished seventh at this year’s Indy 500 and ninth last weekend in Iowa.

“It’s been a roller-coaster ride,” Hinchcliffe said. “We’re proving the paces week in and week out, we just need luck to fall our way a little bit. Not something that’s traditionally been in my cards at this race, but hopefully we can buck the trend this week.”

Hinchcliffe said good qualifying is going to be key if he hopes to win this weekend.

“This track, although you can pass, it’s a street course, it’s still tough,” he said. “But the big focus for us is going to make sure we’re quick over the lap, get a good qualifying position, and that usually helps a lot in trying to get that first victory.”

A win at home would also be a sweet feeling for the 2011 IndyCar series rookie of the year.

“I mean, short of winning the 500, this is as exciting as it gets for me to bring home a victory here,” Hinchcliffe said. “We’ve done it on street courses before in St. Pete and Brazil so we know how to do it. It’s just a matter of getting all the pieces to fall into place. It will be a big celebration in Hinchtown if that happens.”

Ganassi announces multiyear sponsorship extension with American Legion for No. 10

Chip Ganassi American Legion
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Chip Ganassi Racing announced a new primary sponsorship deal with The American Legion this week, shoring up the funding on its No. 10 Dallara-Honda of Alex Palou.

The 2021 NTT IndyCar Series champion primarily had driven with NTT Data sponsorship the past two seasons. But NTT Data will move next season to McLaren Racing as a primary sponsor for Felix Rosenqvist in 10 races and on the Indy 500 car of Tony Kanaan (who drove an American Legion car for Ganassi at the Brickyard last year).

It was the latest twist in a McLaren-Ganassi saga that included a contract dispute for the services of Palou (who is expected to move to McLaren in 2024 after reaching an agreement to race with Ganassi next year).

Ganassi stayed within its own walls to help plug the sponsorship gap left by NTT Data, re-signing The American Legion to a multiyear extension. The Indianapolis-based non-profit organization, which has been sponsoring Ganassi cars for the past few seasons, also will be associated with other Ganassi drivers, including Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson and development driver Kyffin Simpson in Indy NXT.

The Ganassi organization will continue promoting The American Legion’s “Be The One” campaign aimed at reducing veteran suicides. The team launched an online auction for the initiative this week.

“Supporting our nation’s veterans is of immense importance to our organization and we are humbled to continue supporting The American Legion’s mission in ending veteran suicide,” team owner Chip Ganassi said in a release. “We will do absolutely everything we can to help veterans get the support they need while raising public awareness of the ‘Be The One’ platform.”

“We have received an overwhelming amount of support from fans, active-duty military members and veterans as a result of this partnership and we’re pleased to see it grow,” said Dean Kessel, chief marketing officer at The American Legion. “Thanks to the continuous collaboration with the team’s other partners, and the promotion of the ‘Be The One’ initiative, we are discovering more ways to engage with the military community than ever before. We want all veterans to know that it’s okay to ask for help.”