Hinchcliffe finally beats JK Vernay
James Hinchcliffe collected his second victory of the Firestone Indy Lights Series season on Sunday as the Canadian stand-out delivered a textbook flag-to-flag performance in Round 8, the ‘Edmonton 100’, hosted on the temporary Edmonton Airport Circuit in Alberta, Canada.
|Hinchcliffe led Vernay all 50 laps|
The 23-year-old went from heartbreak to hero in a week following his crushing retirement on the last lap at his home race in Toronto last Sunday. The second and final leg of the Indy Lights tour of Canada proved more favorable to the driver of the #2 Team Moore Racing entry, James adding to his Long Beach victory from April and strengthening his second place in the Driver Standings behind France’s J.K. Vernay.
Hinchcliffe collected his fourth pole position of the season on Saturday thanks to a hot-lap around the 1.973-mile circuit of 1m06.216s. He was joined on the front-row by title rival Vernay, who had denied ‘Hinch’ a home pole seven days earlier on the streets of Toronto, the gap between the two series rivals a mere 1/100th of a second.
Sunday’s 50-lap showdown proved to be a thrilling affair with James leading the charge from pole. With the race flat-out, with the exception of just one full-course caution period, it was Hinchcliffe’s to lose as he had his mirrors full of Vernay’s Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry from start to finish. Despite the constant pressure, the gap between the two front-runners rarely more than a second, Hinchcliffe delivered a racing master-class in flag-to-flag domination. Vernay had to settle for second with Great Britain’s Martin Plowman rounding out the Edmonton top-three.
“I’m naturally thrilled to win on home soil,” stated Hinchcliffe. “Our team owner, Tom Moore, is from Alberta so this is as good as a home win for him and as always, the Canadian fans have been outstanding in supporting the Indy event here and all the drivers. I’m also pretty pleased to have delivered another win and bounce back from last week’s disappointment in Toronto, talk about motivation!
“Yesterday’s qualifying session was key to today’s success. It was so tight at the top between J.K and myself. He kept me more than honest today but we raced hard and clean which is how it should be. I just had no room for error and to be honest, I was fighting a loose car towards the end. The last 10 laps were definitely more exciting than I’d have liked, not that the previous 40 weren’t, but the outcome was all I had hoped for. I think it was a good indicator that I’ve continued to mature as a driver and that I’m ready, and eager, to move up!”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 2 Xtreme Coil Drilling TMR, winner Edmonton 100): It's obviously a fantastic feeling. It's the first time I've managed to win here in my open wheel career. To get it finally done ‑‑ I've come close a couple times, come close here a couple times. To finally get it feels extra special. That cool‑down lap was a lot of fun, seeing all the fans in the stands. And thanks to all them for coming out because it's such a great event. It certainly wasn't easy. JK made me work for it, that's for sure.
J.K. VERNAY (No. 7 Lucas/CJ/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, second): It was a great race with James. Did a great race, no mistakes, nothing for me to pass. Since the start I was behind him. I really tried to push hard and to take him. But he didn't give me a real chance, I have to say. And it was really good. Canada looks good for me. One victory, one second place. So I think it's good. We have to continue like that for the next race and trying to push hard and to work with my engine. But it was great. And just yesterday, I mean, qualifying is really important. And in Toronto I was in front for half a tenth and here I'm behind half a tenth again. So it's racing. And we hope to come back in the first position for the next race.
MARTIN PLOWMAN (No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinkles/KEP Printing, third): I think there's a lot of hard work. We're pushing for the first win, trying to hold that consistency, just a one race win. So this year we're just building a lot of momentum with the team and I'm growing confidence all the time with my engineers and we're getting faster. Starting to challenge for the podiums and front rows now. One of these days we're going to get it, I hope.
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 26 Levemir FlexPen, fourth): "It was really good. It was very and a very physical track. I got hung up behind my teammate and he's driving the same car as me, so there was no way I could pass him. The last five laps, I had a vibration, so I was really just holding on at the end."
DAN CLARKE (No. 40 Wasteco Deans Knight Special, fifth): "It was a good weekend. I'm happy for the top-five finish. It shows how much this team has improved over the last two months."
1. (1) James Hinchcliffe, 50, Running
2. (2) JK Vernay, 50, Running
3. (3) Martin Plowman, 50, Running
4. (4) Charlie Kimball, 50, Running
5. (5) Dan Clarke, 50, Running
6. (8) Sebastian Saavedra, 50, Running
7. (7) Stefan Wilson, 50, Running
8. (9) Adrian Campos Jr, 50, Running
9. (6) Gustavo Yacaman, 50, Running
10. (10) Philip Major, 50, Running
11. (11) Pippa Mann, 50, Running
12. (12) Rodrigo Barbosa, 50, Running
13. (13) Carmen Jorda, 6, Mechanical zzzz
Time of Race: 58:33.2721
Winners average speed: 101.085
Margin of victory: 1.2273 seconds
Cautions: 1 for 3 laps
Lead changes: 0
Lap Leaders: Hinchcliffe 1-50
Point Standings: Vernay 335, Hinchcliffe 280, Plowman 253, Kimball 252, Saavedra 239, Wilson 202, Yacaman 187, Clarke 184, Major 184, Campos 165.