INDIANAPOLIS – Unfortunately, James Hinchcliffe has had this redemption story before at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The first one was much more severe than this one, but like that first near tragedy, Hinchliffe is hoping for another feel good story a year later.
See, in 2015, Hinchcliffe had just qualified his No. 5 Honda a day before. The Monday after, he was following Juan Pablo Montoya around the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway in race practice. That’s when his life changed.
Hinchcliffe’s suspension on his car broke, sending him into the Turn 3 SAFER barrier on the 2.5-mile track at full speed. The impact was well over 100 g’s as not only did he have a severe concussion as a result, he nearly died.
See, a wishbone from his car penetrated his body, keeping him trapped in his car. The wishbone went through an artery which caused massive blood loss. Doctors said it was touch and go if he’d survive.
Luckily, they had enough blood on hand to keep pumping into his body and were able to get him into immediate surgery to close the wound and stop the bleeding. It worked and he survived.
Almost exactly a year later, Hinchcliffe won the pole for the 100th Running of the race. His career was back on track. Until last May.
James Hinchcliffe nearly flips after a frightening qualifying crash last Saturday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – INDYCAR Media Site
Hinchcliffe, was injured this time luckily. His career was on track as a championship contender. He was running very well. The problem was his car never had the speed in it as he was bumped from the fastest 33 late in the day. On his rebuttal run, he had a massive vibration and had to pit before the completion of his run was over. He never got another chance to bump his way back in.
It nearly happened again this year until a Last Row Shootout four lap average of 227.543 mph in his No. 5 Honda on Sunday got him in. See, he was only in that portion of the qualifying session because he crashed his primary car during his first qualifying run on Saturday.
IndyCar’s most popular driver was nearly not in the Indy 500 for the third time in five years. Now, he return in 2019 for another redemption story.
2015, he almost died. 2016, he returned and won the pole. 2018, he misses the race. 2019…A win?
He’s led a lap in four of his last five Indy 500 tries but only has two top 10 finishes in his career in the big race. On the season though, Hinchcliffe has been solid. He has three top 10 finishes and if not for a couple of mistake, he could be 5-for-5.
Despite all these unlucky occurrence here, Hinchcliffe feels like this track owes him nothing.
“Even me,” said Hinchcliffe when asked on if he’s in the category of drivers that say IMS doesn’t owe them anything. “I left a couple pints of blood on track in Turn 4 a couple of years ago. I don’t think I’m getting those back. Other than that, it doesn’t. This place is so special and so unique. Every lap you drive here is a privilege.”
Hinchcliffe, comes from 32nd and says that it’s possible to come up quickly. He was in this position before in 2017. Passes get trickier in his position and thinks that guys get too aggressive early and he can pick them off when they get impatient and make mistakes.