TORONTO – Wrapping up their NBA All-Star Weekend adventure, Verizon IndyCar Series drivers James Hinchcliffe, Josef Newgarden and Conor Daly declared the Verizon Slam Dunk competition the best part of their weekend, which included three major basketball events over three days and a late-night Maxim Magazine VIP party.
Hinchcliffe, a Canadian from the Toronto area and driver of the No. 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, became a tour guide for the others, naming all the best restaurants and even assisting in navigation through multiple Uber rides throughout the weekend. The trip included a visit to Hinchcliffe’s hometown of Oakville. Based in the city is Canada’s The Weather Network, where they starred as celebrity forecasters. During Hinchcliffe’s forecast, Oakville was fittingly renamed “Hinchtown,” the name of his fictitious online city in which he presides as mayor.
But as they packed their bags to leave today, the drivers were still talking about the Feb. 13 dunk contest showdown between Minnesota’s Zach LaVine and Orlando’s Aaron Gordon – which has been widely declared the best in years.
“It was incredible to see those guys go way up and nearly bring the backboard down,” said Daly, driver of the No. 18 Honda for Dale Coyne Racing this season.
Hinchcliffe still thinks Gordon, who jumped over his team’s mascot to slam it in, was robbed when LaVine won. But he’s not too upset about it.
The drivers, who all live in the Indianapolis area and are Indiana Pacers fans, were excited to greet Pacers forward Paul George on the court at halftime during the NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 14. On the way to check in with George, they ran into “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” host and former Indianapolis 500 celebrity pace car driver Guy Fieri, who was still talking about that experience. Hinchcliffe, Daly and Fieri are pictured above with George, who blazed the nets for 41 points in the game.
All of the activity kept the drivers warm, even though Canadian temperatures dipped Toronto into a deep freeze for the weekend -- much chillier than when they'll return to race in the Honda Indy Toronto from July 15-17.
“It was a little cold, but we’d do it again next year,” said Hinchcliffe.
For a photo gallery of the trio's weekend highlights in Toronto, click here.