James Hinchcliffe is the first to admit he has unfinished business – both personal and professional – when he returns to Indianapolis Motor Speedway this week.
It was at IMS on May 18, 2015, that Hinchcliffe suffered the worst crash of his career while practicing for the 99th Indianapolis 500, abruptly ending his Verizon IndyCar Series season. The Canadian was critically injured when a suspension piece pierced an artery in his thigh. Hinchcliffe underwent several surgeries, enduring months of therapy and rehabilitation.
Hinchcliffe is driving fulltime again in 2016, but he says the circle won't be complete until he successfully conquers Turn 3 at IMS, site of his crash, once again. That opportunity is scheduled to come April 6 in the Verizon IndyCar Series' aero test, the chance for most teams and drivers to get the feel of their respective manufacturers' superspeedway aero kit configurations for 2016.
"I think until you come back to Indy and get those first laps under your belt and get through Turn 3 incident-free, then I think it will be fully closed," Hinchcliffe said. "I'm 99.9 percent of the way there. I just need a couple of hot laps through (Turn) 3 and I'll be good to go."
The one-day test at IMS will serve two goals: to test the configuration of both the Chevrolet and Honda superspeedway aero kit packages and allow Verizon IndyCar Series Leaders Circle teams the chance to turn important test laps in advance of practice for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil next month.
Sixteen entries are scheduled to participate. They are, by team: Andretti Autosport (No. 26 Carlos Munoz, No. 27 Marco Andretti, No. 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay), Chip Ganassi Racing Teams (No. 9 Scott Dixon, No. 10 Tony Kanaan, No. 83 Charlie Kimball), Ed Carpenter Racing (No. 20 Ed Carpenter, No. 21 Josef Newgarden), KVSH Racing (No. 11 Sebastien Bourdais), Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (No. 15 Graham Rahal), Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (No. 5 James Hinchcliffe, No. 7 Mikhail Aleshin) and Team Penske (No. 2 Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 3 Helio Castroneves, No. 12 Will Power, No. 22 Simon Pagenaud).
Indianapolis 500 rookies are not permitted to be on track at IMS until completing the rookie orientation program on the first day of practice May 16. Practice runs through May 20, with qualifying scheduled for May 21-22 and the 100th running on May 29.