James Hinchcliffe

‘Tis the season for people to decide that they are going back to the gym, or they are going to be better at adding to their savings account, or maybe they want to quit smoking.

For INDYCAR drivers, there’s no doubt that any New Year’s resolutions will revolve around what happens on the racetrack. I am no different.

For me, 2015 was far from a typical season. Spending two-thirds of it on the sidelines meant I had a long time to think about not that long of a season that I did have.

It was a difficult start for all teams as we tried to get a handle on the new aero kits in a short amount of time. St. Pete was tough, getting collected by another car mid-race and forcing an unscheduled stop. In NOLA, we benefited from terrible weather and an excellent strategy call to win the race, but were under no illusion that we had jumped to the top of the speed charts.

Barber was a good race where I enjoyed a great battle with Graham Rahal. Both Long Beach and the Indy GP were nondescript races where it was tough to make much headway once the green flag dropped. Then came the crash in Indy 500 practice that ended my season.

There were lessons to be learned in all races, but over the course of my 2015 season, abbreviated as it may have been, one thing bothered me week in and week out: qualifying. There’s no doubt that we had better race pace than we showed in qualifying. Certainly, in the early stages of the season, it was tough going for qualifying in the Honda cars, but even with that I felt that we weren’t getting the times that we needed on Saturdays. That was something that I had focused on big over the winter before the 2014 season and I saw a big improvement that season.

For ’15, I didn’t feel the same groove in qualifying and now I am committed to figuring out how to bring that back. I’ll look at myself to see what I need to do differently. I’ll work with my engineers to talk about what the car needs to do differently. Together, we will get back on the right track for that one-lap pace.

That’s my on-track resolution. Off track, I definitely look at things a bit differently after what happened this year. I know that I will conduct myself and live life differently than I have previously, appreciating more how quickly things can change. I mean, I go to the gym regularly, I’m a good saver and I don’t smoke, so if I can focus on those things, I think I’ll be in for a good year.

Happy New Year, everyone!