“Lucky break” nets Hinchcliffe an overdue first Toronto podium (VIDEO)

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TORONTO – James Hinchcliffe’s perpetually unlucky run of form at his home race, the Honda Indy Toronto, came to an end – for once – with third place in today’s Verizon IndyCar Series race in the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda.

The top Honda driver in the field all weekend started sixth, finished third (his best prior start and finish at Toronto in six starts was both eighth) but still needed a stroke of luck to ensure the result came good.

Hinchcliffe stopped for his final time on Lap 47 and ran the final 39 laps on a stint, needing a bit of yellow (which he got from Laps 47 to 49, 58 to 62 and 82 to 83, so 10 laps) in order to be able to run the distance without a splash.

Once the final yellow came out on Lap 82, Hinchcliffe was not only good to go on fuel, but also able to go full rich and thus be able to hold off a hard charging Tony Kanaan in the process.

“As we were coming to the last restart, I saw everybody in the last section get to their feet,” he told CNBC post-race. “I was hoping not to screw it up.

“It was obviously a great day to have a good day. For once, we caught a lucky break in Toronto. I’m not going to sit here and say we had third-place pace, but as the cloud cover came out the track came to us. … It’s awesome, there’ll be a party in Hinchtown, for sure.

“There was some fun action. … It was good, fun racing. The support here is incredible. The folks here in Toronto made me feel super special when we come here and I’m happy with this result.”

Hinchcliffe elaborated on what the result meant during the post-race press conference.

“We had a good first stint. The car was good on reds, as we should have expected based on qualifying. Throwing some elbows with Bourdais at the start, Montoya, Mikhail, Josef, a couple guys there. Kind of good fun racing,” he said.

“When we stopped and switched over to blacks, we lost the balance a fair bit. We were really struggling for pace. I was just trying to hold on to the thing, to be honest. We weren’t entirely sure how it was going to play out.

“For once in my career here in Toronto we caught a lucky break. It’s not just that I haven’t had great luck here, I’ve had insanely bad luck here. Today we were on the other side of that. It’s part of IndyCar racing.”

Hinchcliffe thanked the fans and also noted how special his firesuit was this race, featuring a number of autographs from people who made a donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and thus got to sign the suit.

“Thanks to my association with Honda Canada, their partnership with Make-a-Wish Foundation, we do this every year,” he said. “We’ll put a suit on display on the Honda World tent. If you make a donation, you get to sign the suit I wear on race day. Obviously, this one is a bit special now. Been up on the podium. Smells like champagne and sweat.

“If you look at it, there’s not many open spaces left. It shows how generous the people of Toronto are. I think we raised a bunch of money for a really good cause.

“I got a little bit of extra boost, like I said, seeing the crowd stand up in Turn 11. I knew all my family and extended family and friend group were sitting on that grandstand. Like I said, that kind of gave me a little boost just to make sure we got a really good run off of turn 11.

“I knew we had an extra overtake compared to T.K. that might come into play. I was feeling good, feeling confident. We were keeping him behind us before. There was no reason to think we couldn’t do it again.”

Hinchcliffe now sits eighth in the points championship, one behind Alexander Rossi in seventh for being top Honda.