(via INDYCAR) – Drivers are always eager when they can step back into their race cars after some time off.
Being eager may be an understatement when it comes to Verizon IndyCar Series driver James Hinchcliffe for this afternoon’s first race of the Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear doubleheader.
Hinchcliffe and his No. 5 Arrow Electronics Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda crew come to Detroit after not qualifying for the biggest race of the year, the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil six days ago.
“I don’t think there was anyone more excited to get to Detroit than myself and the (No.) 5 crew,” the Canadian said. “It was nice to get here and get back to work.”
The eagerness to get back at it showed in Race 1 qualifying this morning. Hinchcliffe earned the ninth starting position for the 70-lap race on the 2.35-mile, 14-turn temporary street course.
Hinchcliffe sat out the Indianapolis 500 before, following his crash during practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2015. Those were very different circumstances than what he and his team faced this past month.
“It was a lot different being out this year compared to 2015,” Hinchcliffe said. “I didn’t really want to be in the race that year, as I didn’t really have time to think about it as I was not physically able to be. Obviously last week, we were perfectly able to be in the race and should have been. We had the car for it and the team for it. It was a tough pill to swallow, for sure.”
Hinchcliffe is working with a new race engineer, Will Anderson, at Detroit after the team parted ways with engineer Leena Gade following Indy. Anderson is no stranger, however. He was an assistant engineer on Hinchcliffe’s car in the past until transitioning to lead engineer this season for Jack Harvey’s part-time effort with Meyer Shank Racing in a technical collaboration with SPM.
“Having that position switch during the season is not an ideal situation, for sure. It was unfortunate the way it all happened,” Hinchcliffe said. “But Will has been my assistant engineer for a while now and he’s been with the (No.) 5 car and we have working experience together, which is nice.
“We speak the same language and can communicate well together. He’s gotten his feet wet being with Jack and Jack has done well in those races, so it’s still a learning process. We’ve had a week off to think about it and get ready, so we’ll see what happens the rest of the weekend.”
Live coverage of the Detroit Grand Prix is available on ABC (3:30 p.m. ET) and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network (3 p.m.). Race 2 takes place Sunday.