An Interview With James Hinchcliffe, Newman Haas Racing A Rookie
With sponsors being an essential part of racing it’s a bit unique that you have a Toronto-based investment firm as a major sponsor. How did that come about?
We contacted a lot of major Canadian companies including Sprott, a major player in their field. We got to meet with Eric Sprott and several factors made it look like a good fit. They’re based in Toronto, near my hometown, the financial industry is a fast-paced environment like racing and Sprott has a history of supporting Canadian athletes. I think they saw it as an opportunity to help a young Canadian get to the next level.
Looking ahead to Baltimore next on the schedule do you approach a street race differently from road courses like Infineon or Mid-Ohio?
Yes, there’s definitely a different approach for a street race from a road course. On a road course you test the limits of the race car with things like fast corners and high speeds, but there’s also a lot of room for error, gravel, grass, not a lot to hit. On a street course, especially one like Baltimore that’s new to everybody, you want to be cautious at first because the margin for error is almost nonexistent. Threading an Indycar between concrete walls is a bit like flying a fighter jet through the Grand Canyon. It’s a difficult thing to do – all about precision, so you start a bit cautiously and ramp up the aggression through the race.
The Ganassi and Penske teams have been pretty entrenched at the top, but you’ve been “ knocking on the door “ a few times. Do you think a race like Baltimore gives you a better chance to break through?
In terms of the top teams and being competitive , we’ve done well on some street courses although Edmonton wasn’t the strongest race for Newman Haas. We like going to a new track because it levels things off a bit. It gives everybody a chance to interpret things and see who adapts the quickest. We have a chance to pick up a few spots but there’s also a chance that a mistake could move us back as well so we have to be careful. Mostly we’re looking forward to getting to a new city, in a big Northeastern market, with a great looking layout that’s situated beautifully.
You’re now just three points behind JR Hildebrand for the rookie points lead. Is that something you pay close attention to at this stage of the season?
The rookie points lead is a year-long goal but it’s not something I think about race-to-race. I want to beat everybody, not just JR. If we maximize what we can do on the racetrack and with the car the points will take care of themselves.
Looking ahead to the new Dallara car is there a lot of talk on the team about what that change will mean and is there any information that’s been passed along?
Unfortunately, no. They’ve actually been very tight-lipped about everything that’s been going on in the development area. Dan’s been sworn to secrecy so it’s a little bit of a tease, like seeing a preview of the greatest movie of all time but not getting to watch it. We’re all anxious for mid- December when the cars get delivered to the shop, and it’s probably be mid-January when we get to hit the track with them.