On the day before Pole Day at Indianpolis Motor Speedway in preparation for next week’s Indy 500 Oakville’s James Hinchcliffe sat down to answer some questions about the big race and his No. 27 Andretti Autosport Dallara Chevrolet.
What are your impressions of the month so far?
Hinch: “The guys have done a tremendous amount of work to get the cars ready for the Speedway. The teamwork, the team, you’ve been hearing a lot from us not only this month, all season long, this is not some company line we’re spewing, we’re working together and you’ve seen the results. It’s been awesome.
“To come here with five cars now, sticking to the program that we laid out before the month even started, I’ve been super impressed that we’ve managed to do that. Normally you make a plan on a race weekend, within about 15 minutes of the first practice, you’ve deviated off it. We’ve remained on target.
“Today it’s like opening day all over again with the extra boost. There’s going to be some more questions to be asked and answers for today and tomorrow. I think we have pretty quick cars in race trim and we’re sitting in a pretty good position for this weekend and next.
Will the new boost affect the closing rate on the track? Will you close even faster?
Hinch: “It’s a bit irrelevant because we’re not going to have that boost on race day. Today everybody’s focus is qualifying with the more boost, with Pole Day coming up. So I think it will be easier to get a little bit of clear track space. You’re not going to see guys out there purposely running in packs for 30 laps. You’re going to see guys going out there for four laps and parking it.
“In terms of how the cars will race with the extra boost, it’s not really a factor. The draft is much bigger, especially the last sort of like five, six car lengths, it’s like it gets an afterburner and really sucks you up, but lures you into a sense of I don’t have quite enough to make a move. Then you get extra boost, it’s last-minute dive-out passes on one and three that we’re going to have to look for on race day.”
There’s a lot of talk about the switch to Honda with their boost situation. Do you feel underpowered?
Hinch: “I don’t think we’ve ever been underpowered. We’ve had four poles and four wins. We’ve been quick on our own, quick if in the pack. We can’t change other people’s programs. We’re working harder than ever to stay on top because that’s where we’ve been.”