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James Hinchcliffe: Immortality Is Best Word To Describe Winning Indy 500

(via Forbes.com) – In Part 1 of this interview, James Hinchcliffe discussed his disappointment at not making the Indianapolis 500 starting field for this year’s race. Here, the driver of the Arrow Electronics Honda Indy car lightens up a bit.

Jim Clash: In 2016, you captured the pole position for the Indy 500. The same year, you participated in Dancing With The Stars. Which experience was better?

James Hinchcliffe: I’m a really competitive guy, so I was a bit disappointed with second [laughs] on Dancing.  Really, though, I just didn’t want to go home first. That was my only goal on the show. So everything above and beyond was icing on the cake. But nothing compares to success at the Indy speedway. The 500 is a race that transcends everything we do, especially coming back from what happened in 2015 where I was almost killed there. To be there the following year and capture the pole was a really big moment of closure for the team. Everybody has to remember: It wasn’t just me that it happened to, it was the whole team.

Clash: If you ever win the Indy 500, what will it mean to you?

Hinchcliffe: People ask that question sometimes, “Tell me in a word what would it mean.” I’m a talkative guy so that’s a tough thing for me to do. I had to think about it. And the one word I landed on was “immortality.” If you win that race, for the rest of your life you’re introduced as Indy 500 champ. And your face is on the Borg Warner Trophy for long after you’re gone. So winning the 500 does kind of make you an immortal part of the history of our sport, and that’s pretty cool.

Clash: What is Sam Schmidt like to work for?

Hinchcliffe: Sam was a successful racer, and that’s what the best team owners have in them. It’s that competitive nature, having the force at the head of the ship that motivates everybody with the team. There are guys who work in racing and there are racers. They are two very different things. Sam has assembled a team of racers, and I think that’s why we’ve been as competitive as we are on Sundays.

Clash: Do you think your rookie teammate Robert Wickens’ accident in practice this week will affect his performance in the 500 on Sunday?

Hinchcliffe: Honestly, I don’t think it will hurt anything. I’ve known Robbie’s since he was 12 years old. He’s a special kid, a professional. I saw him less than an hour after it happened, and he had already shaken it off. He was amazingly unfazed by the whole thing. Your first hit on an oval is never a fun experience. Neither is your second, third or fourth for that matter. When I started racing on ovals, Bobby Rahal told me: There are two kinds of drivers – those who have hit on ovals and those who will. Robbie’s got it out of his system, and he knows now it’s not that bad. The crew is great. The car will be ready for him on Carb Day and just as strong on Sunday.

Clash: How is your Hinchtown Hammer Down Ale doing?

Hinchcliffe: Still got it. It’s doing fine. We sell a lot during the month of May, so it’s flowing freely in Indianapolis right now [laughs].

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