Hinchcliffe Secures Best Finish At Phoenix – Phoenix Grand Prix – By Chuck Null

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Updated: April 9, 2018
  • Qualifies 5th (best start) but slips back to 8th when the race went green
  • Fantastic first pit stop by the crew moved Hinch to 4th
  • Pits lap 114 for second scheduled stop
  • Lap 129, takes the lead
  • Teammate Wickens takes over the lead Lap 149
  • Lap 177 pits for final stop and settles into P5
  • Yellow with 20 laps remaining, puts Hinchcliffe P3
  • Decides to stay out instead of pitting for fresh tires
  • Back to green with 7 laps remaining and drops back to 6th
  • Finishes 6th, best finish at ISM Raceway in two starts.

Quote:
“Not the ending we wanted, but that last restart starting second – huge credit to the team. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports have done an incredible job since the test here in February when we were at the bottom [of the time sheets], to get two cars in the top six in both qualifying and the race. Huge congrats to Robbie [Wickens] on his first podium. I think the Arrow Electronics guys really did an incredible job today, picked up a lot of spots on pit lane which is huge for a short oval like this. Restarting second on that last restart, I thought maybe we had a shot at it. We took a gamble, other guys took a gamble – it’s tough to tell how it went in terms of stopping for tires on the last restart; Alex [Rossi], Robbie and I decided not to. Ultimately the new tire guy won, but track position is key at a place like this, and we made a call – that call was right. I’m proud of the guys. Stinks to lose a couple spots so late in the race like that when we were running at the top all day, but good points day, and huge for the team.”

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1st Story by: Indy Car

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SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS FOLLOWS UP ST. PETE WIN WITH POLE FOR PHOENIX GRAND PRIX

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PHOENIX – Continuing his impressive start to the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series, Sebastien Bourdais claimed the pole for the Desert Diamond West Valley Casino Phoenix Grand Prix at ISM Raceway in Friday’s qualifying session, with a lap of 19.5034 seconds (188.539 mph).

“This is why we’re out there,” said Bourdais. “We come out every week and try to win it, be on pole, do the best you can. We’ll still a very small organization when you compare to the likes of Ganassi, Andretti, Penske. When you do [well], it’s really sweet.

Bourdais, the driver of the No. 18 Team SealMaster Honda, is joined on the front row by his fellow Frenchman, defending race winner Simon Pagenaud (188.148 mph). Bourdais’ Dale Coyne Racing teammate, Pietro Fittipaldi, grandson of open-wheel legend Emerson Fittipaldi, qualified 10th in his first race at ISM Raceway.

Also qualifying in the top five were Will Power in third, Alexander Rossi in fourth and James Hinchcliffe in fifth. Three of the top-five qualifiers were Hondas. Besides Pagenaud, the other former ISM Raceway winners in field were Tony Kanaan in ninth and Scott Dixon in 17th.

Earlier in the day, the USAC Silver Crown Champ Car Series held its qualifying session for Saturday’s Phoenix Copper Cup. Three-time series champion Kody Swanson, from Kingsburg, Calif., claimed the pole with a lap of 25.326 seconds. Swanson looks to earn his first win at ISM Raceway; he finished second in last year’s Copper Cup. Swanson beat out 2017 race winner Bobby Santos, who will start second with a lap of 25.363 seconds.

Also on track today was the Vintage Desert Classic Presented by Classic Racing Times. Throughout the event, fans will be able to see over 30 vintage Indy cars make laps on the track. With this weekend’s Mario Andretti 25th anniversary celebration of his final IndyCar win, some of his cars will be featured in the Classic.

The family aspect of racing was visible throughout the day in the Phoenix Mini Copper Cup as the USAC .25 Midgets staged qualifying and heat races for competitors age 5 to 16 in 12 classes on a temporary 1/20th of a mile oval set up on the DC Solar Power Pavilion.