SALINAS, Calif – James Hinchcliffe is the quiet one up front right now. The Most Popular driver in the NTT IndyCar Series is flying under the radar heading into Sunday’s season finale at the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
See, Colton Herta earning the pole as a 19 year old is a huge storyline. The rookie excelling on a track where his dad Bryan had a ton of success is fun to watch. Then, four of the next five starting belongs belong to the championship eligible drivers.
So, forgive us for overlooking how hard that Hinchcliffe and his Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team have worked this weekend.
Hinchcliffe, was only eighth and 16th respectively in Thursday two test sessions. He was just 22nd and 19th respectively in practice on Friday. In final practice on Saturday morning, he was 21st.
So, how did he end up fifth in qualifying?
“Obviously I think everyone on the Arrow car is thrilled to be on the Firestone Fast 6 this weekend, it’s been a tough log up to this last point,” Hinchcliffe said. “The test day wasn’t super productive for us and unfortunately then, over Friday and this morning, we were thrown all sorts of set up changes at the car. I’ve been having to learn how to drive a different car every session. We never gave up and huge credit to the engineers, and everybody, for keeping their heads down and coming up with the setup at the end of Practice 3 this morning, which was something we could work with and got two of our cars out of Round 1 of Qualifying, then to get into the Firestone Fast 6. I think if you would have told us that before this day started, we wouldn’t believe you. Proud of the Arrow guys, I want to try to end this season on a high note. We’ve had a rough run of luck the last few weeks and it would be nice to go into the off season with a strong result.”
29 of the last 32 race winners in the series have come from a top eight starting spot. 13 of the 16 races run this season alone have seen the race winner come from the Fast Six. That’s great news for Hinchcliffe since he starts on the Inside of Row 3 in his No. 5 Honda.
Also, Hinchcliffe closes out 2019 with four straight top 10 starting spots including five in the final six races overall.