INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana – It’s not been the best pair of days for defending Indianapolis 500 pole sitter and Verizon IndyCar Series star James Hinchcliffe.
Today’s second practice for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil started much the way the first day ended for the driver of the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda – in the garage.
Hinchcliffe’s car encountered electrical issues that prevented him from running half of today’s six-hour session. He still managed to log 60 laps with a best speed of 220.131 mph around the 2.5-mile superspeedway, putting him 29th on today’s time sheet.
Hinchcliffe said that the team still is unsure what the issue is.
“Man, I wish we knew,” said Hinchcliffe the winner of last month’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. “We had some electrical gremlins that held us back from running in the early part of the day. They started creeping in actually yesterday.
“Unfortunately it carried through into this morning, so what we did last night didn’t fix it. We had to throw a lot at it today to try and get it sorted. It’s partly managed, but we’re still having some issues.
“At least we were able to get out there and get our first group run of the week, which is nice. Hopefully we can dive into it a little deeper tonight and get it 100 percent sorted for tomorrow.”
Conditions at Indianapolis Motor Speedway today were far from ideal for Indy cars exceeding 220 mph. The track temperature reached 130 degrees and the ambient temperature hit the high 80s. Worse were heavy wind gusts at better than 30 mph. Hinchcliffe tried to turn the conditions into a positive.
“They were tricky, but that’s perfect,” said the five-time Verizon IndyCar Series race winner. “You know, if you can get set up on a day when it’s this hot and a little bit of a breeze going on, then you should be pretty good on race day.
“It’s good testing for us. It’s better than when it’s cool all week and then get to race day and it’s really, really hot. So, tricky conditions, but it’s exactly the kind of thing that we need to make sure we’re set up for when it counts.”
Many drivers ran late in the afternoon, as teams strived to learn more about their cars and opponents during the final hour of practice. Hinchcliffe was in the thick of it with two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso, the pair swapping positions on multiple occasions. Perhaps the most breathtaking moment coming along the front straightaway when Sebastien Bourdais joined the duo and took it three-wide before backing off. Hinchcliffe pushed past both heading into Turn 1.
Overall, Hinchcliffe was just happy to get some time running among his rivals.
“We were just out there to catch up with guys,” said Hinchcliffe, who ran 93 laps during Monday’s opening-day practice. “We’ve been out of the group running so far this week, so I was trying to feel out the car. It’s good to get to race up against Alonso a little bit and learn what he’s like on track.
“He’s the only guy I really know nothing about as far as being on track with him and he really looks like he’s picking it up pretty quick. It’s impressive to see.”
Practice for the 101st Indianapolis 500 continues Wednesday from noon-6 p.m. ET. A live video stream is available at RaceControl.IndyCar.com.
For more information about Honda Racing, visit http://hpd.honda.com/.