This weekend, James Hinchcliffe will try to do what no Indy car driver has done in more than a decade - return to Victory Lane at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
The affable Canadian, who has finishes of fourth and sixth to start the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season, has had a lot success on Long Beach’s tight 1.968-mile street circuit, scoring a win in Indy Lights in 2010, securing his first Indy car podium there in 2012 and winning his first Indy car race since coming back from a serious injury in 2015 last season.
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“I always say this, but we look forward to Long Beach every year,” Hinchcliffe said. “It’s one of the greatest events on the calendar, one of the longest running events, one of the best attended… it’s definitely a highlight of the year. Last year was obviously pretty special taking the win.”
Another Long Beach win would put Hinchcliffe in the company of some of the sport's greatest drivers. Mario Andretti, Al Unser Jr., Alex Zanardi, Paul Tracy and Sebastien Bourdais were all back-to-back Long Beach winners, and Bourdais - who won three consecutive Long Beach races from 2005-2007 as part of his four Champ Car titles - is the last driver to go back-to-back.
Hinchcliffe, one of seven former Long Beach winners in the field along with Bourdais, Simon Pagenaud, Scott Dixon, Takuma Sato, Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay, has confidence he will have an Arrow Electronics SPM Honda capable of doing the job.
“The entire team has had a really strong start to the season, and St. Pete went well for us, so we’re cautiously optimistic that our street course package is going to be strong,” he said. “That said, Long Beach is a different racetrack than St. Pete, and with this new car, everyone is constantly improving, so we’re certainly not taking anything for granted.
“We’re going to have to work really hard to get the Arrow Electronics car at the front this weekend, but the team’s been doing an incredible job so far and hopefully we can keep the momentum going."