Photo courtesy of IMSA

Albuquerque: I’d be ‘ashamed’ to win in fashion Taylors did

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Filipe Albuquerque lamented the passing attempt from Ricky Taylor and subsequent contact that occurred, which cost Albuquerque and the Action Express Racing team overall victory at the 55th Rolex 24 at Daytona to Wayne Taylor Racing.

Albuquerque was defending against the sister Cadillac DPi-V.R driven by Taylor, with Taylor no closer than just over two tenths of a second behind before making the passing attempt.

As Albuquerque dove to the inside of the corner, Taylor’s right front of his car hit the left sidepod of Albuquerque’s and pitched the Portuguese driver into a spin.

That left Albuquerque needing to recover and having lost time, trying to catch it up valiantly afterwards but unable to do so for the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing entry he shared with Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa.

“It was a good fight, until I got hit, to be honest.  There is not much to say,” Albuquerque said.  “I had some GTs ahead of me so I could not brake so late, and I closed the door, but then I got spun.  There is not much to say, and yeah, the officials took the decision.  That’s what it is.  We finished second.”

Taylor explained the view from his vantage point: “I was closer than I had been.  He’d been struggling in Turn 1.  Their car didn’t look very good there, and we were really strong on the brakes, and so I have thought about doing this for years and years, and this has always been something ‑‑ people always open up after that little kink in Turn 1, they open their hands a little bit, and it’s just so easy to release the brake there and pop in there.  If you get enough alongside, you can make it work, and I think he saw me coming, he saw me committing, and like he said, I guess, he closed the door.  But I think Beaux always talked about shared responsibility, and if he knew I was committing, why would you close the door and make us crash?

“But the way ‑‑ from my perspective, it’s Max’s last race.  There’s a lot of emotions going on.  I wanted to win terribly.  We were either going to make a move and do something and win or sit there in second and wait for ‑‑ wait until next year, basically.  I didn’t want to do that.”

The contact was immediately reviewed by IMSA Race Control and decided that no further action would be taken. Albuquerque said afterwards he thought Taylor left the braking point too late, but ultimately it was two cars going for one corner for the win and the Rolex watches that go with them.

“I tell you that in Tour de France, when one guy fall, they wait for the other guy,” Albuquerque said.  “I probably would have done the same, like because this is a big race, right, so we need to do whatever we can and we dive in and we brake light, and he knew that it was bad on braking.  He went a little bit too much away.  It happens.  Really it happens.  And we could see, as well, I saw a picture of Wayne Taylor, the dad, like with the hands on his face because he knew that, okay.

“But if it’s a true racer, he did a mistake, just back off.  Don’t leave, right.  But he left, and then he controlled.  It’s what it is.

“I don’t know, to be honest, a true racer in my opinion, in the end, deep inside, I would feel a little bit ashamed with the win.”

Fittipaldi was diplomatically restrained in offering his thoughts on the incident.

“It boils down to did the 10 car do an awesome job throughout the whole race? Yes, they did, because they pretty much had us covered in different conditions of track, and hats off to them,” he said. “It’s definitely going to help sell tickets for next year.

“Was it a clean pass? I don’t know. It was decided the way it was decided. I have to agree with you a little bit, like very quick without having analyzed, and to my understanding, Beau in the briefing was very clear about if you generate a problem or if you generate contact, you will probably be penalized for it. So I don’t know.”

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

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Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.