INDIANAPOLIS – Barring any major disaster over the next three days Verizon IndyCar Series driver James Hincchliffe won’t be racing in the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 (11 a.m. ET/ABC/INDYCAR Radio Network). Hinchcliffe, took to social media on Wednesday afternoon to make the statement that he and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports are going to stop pursuing any other opportunities that would put the popular Canadian driver into the show on May 27.
See, Hinchcliffe was a victim of bad timing and bad luck on Saturday afternoon. His first qualifying run came on a green track as he was the first qualifier after the first initial rain storm. The gearing wasn’t setup for the time that his No. 5 Honda hit the famed 2.5-mile track for his first qualifying run. They lasted for a while, but nearing the final hour, he became bumped. When they tried to bump their way back in, and they had plenty of speed to do so, a parts failure on his car occurred, forcing him to come back into the pits to fix a vibration. Unfortunately, he’d never get another shot to go back on track. Three qualifiers in front of him got their time, but the final gun sounded at 5:50 p.m. ET while Hinch was next up.
The problem lies is this race is double points. Hinchcliffe, currently resides in fifth place in the standings. Missing this race would likely end his championship hopes for 2018. Plus, Arrow is a great partner of the series and having their colors off the track on Memorial Day weekend isn’t good. So, in wake of that, SPM looked into other opportunities.
The SPM teammates that aren’t full-time said “no.” Jay Howard wasn’t interested in money and Michael Shank said that their car and deal for Jack Harvey wasn’t for sale. So, they looked elsewhere. The only teams that they could even look to were Honda ones, but Andretti Autosport and Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing weren’t interested in giving up one of their already qualified part-time entries. Dale Coyne Racing was on the fence, but Sebastien Bourdais is a full-time driver and Zachary Claman DeMelo’s sponsors said no way in hell. That left Conor Daly. He was thinking about it too but said that it would take “life changing” money for him to even get close to hopping out of his car. The other hurdle in this process was that Daly’s sponsor is US Air Force. They want an American driver. Hinchcliffe is Canadian.
Coyne told Jim Ayello from the Indy Star and I that it would take at least $2-million to get a deal started. Why would Arrow and Honda spend over $2-million when the publicity would likely be negative? To win the race barely pays $2-million. So, as we become less than 100 hours into the race, the cards weren’t in play anymore.
“Barring unforeseen circumstances, I will not be racing in the Indy 500 this year,” Hinchcliffe tweeted. “The decision was made to stop pursuing options to get us in the race. There really aren’t words to describe how missing this race feels. At the end of the day, we simply didn’t get the job done. No excuses. This is our reality and we will face it head on, we will use it as motivation and we will come back stronger.
“We have a great team, incredible partners and the best fans, all who have been so supportive through this. I’m sorry we can’t be on track for you Sunday, but we will be pushing hard for the wins in Detroit.
“I wish all 33 drivers a fast and safe race. I’ll be watching and cheering on my SPM teammates. See you in Detroit.”