Indianapolis, May 22, 2016 – A year ago there was a horrific crash, followed by doctors and hospitals and months of rehab. Not so in 2016 as James Hinchcliffe came back all the way in a storybook finish Sunday to claim the pole for the 100th Indy 500.
“I came into this month hoping we would have a new story to talk about after what happened last year, and I think we did it,” he said, moments after doing just that, his Mom and Dad hanging on every word. He edged out Josef Newgarden with his four Q lap average of 230.760 mph. bringing a loud roar from the stands at The Brickyard at the checkered flag. Newgarden was next at 230.648, and veteran Townsend Bell was third at 230.481.
“The Arrow Electronics car was just an absolute smoke show out there; it was right on the edge,” The Mayor said. “Allen McDonald, all my engineers, did such a great job. . .these guys worked so hard. Three Schmidt Peterson Motorsports cars in the top 10? It’s incredible. Now we’ve got the best seat in the house for the start of the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500. ”
His pole position was not a surprise, considering James was top qualifier in Saturday’s qualifying session, which meant he would be the last of the Fastest Nine to go on Sunday.
What is it like to walk out knowing you have a car to do it? And that now he’ll be a favorite for the race itself next Sunday.
“It’s crazy. Obviously, this race always has more pressure than anywhere else and, it being the 100th, there’s a little more attention as well. Obviously, we’ve done something right as a team. It’s a long race. Ten miles is one thing. You’ve got to hold your breath for that whole thing. But 500 is a very different deal. You’ve got to be patient. You’ve got to breathe. You’ve got to know when to push and when to relax. At least we’ve got a good starting spot, the best starting spot and we can kind of go from there.”
About his parents: “A year ago, they came here for a very different reason. They were out of the country when I had my accident last year. I can’t imagine what that plane trip must have been like for them. Mom moved in on May 1. She said she wasn’t missing a single minute on track action just in case I tried to kill myself again and luckily that wasn’t the case. We’re here. These two have been everything in my life and my career. I couldn’t have done any of it without them.”
The 200-lap Indy 500, the fifth event on the Verizon IndyCar Series 2016 schedule, will see the green flag come down at 12:19 pm on Sunday May 29. Full qualification results are available on IndyCar.com.