Hinchcliffe not expecting to run in Indianapolis 500
James Hinchcliffe watched the final day of Indianapolis 500 qualifying in street clothes, refusing to lobby for someone to give him their ride for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
Hinchcliffe was bumped from the field of 33 in the first round of qualifying, and spent Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a spectator. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, one of IndyCar’s anchor teams, wants the popular Canadian driver in the race, but Hinchcliffe acknowledged it is unlikely he will be part of the event.
“At this point, I believe I won’t,” he said. “I know there’s precedent for doing that, but at the end of the day, every single driver in this race earned their way in and it’s hard to knock someone out of that.”
The clearest path to make it in would be replacing teammate and Indy-only driver Jay Howard.
Hinchcliffe is fifth in the season standings, and missing the Indy 500 will get him zero points in a race that scores double in the championship hunt. His primary sponsor, Arrow Electronics, has its name on a massive temporary suite complex in the speedway’s first turn, and he’s the centerpiece of Honda’s national campaign.
Not having Hinchcliffe, a crossover star because of his runner-up appearance on “Dancing with the Stars,” in the field is a disaster for all parties involved in his program.
And there was no immediate indication a solution was in the works. Rules prevent teams from making driver changes until qualifying ends, so the earliest Schmidt could replace Howard with Hinchcliffe is Monday. But Howard has been firm in that he won’t give up the ride he raised the money to race, and qualified in the field.