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April 12, 2015

James Hinchcliffe


THE MODERATOR:テつ We'll continue with our post‑race press conference.テつ We're now joined by the winner of our race, James Hinchcliffe, driving the No. 5 Arrow/Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda.テつ
First of all, congratulations.テつ This is James' fourth career win.テつ He last won at Iowa in 2013.テつ It was obviously a very interesting race.テつ Talk about some of the challenges you faced and how you eventually worked your way up to first.
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ I think the biggest one was car sickness.テつ All those yellows, weaving back and forth and accelerating and braking, I literally felt like I was going to throw up in my helmet.テつ I felt bad for the fans that we had so much yellow.テつ But, in all seriousness, the race course was obviously pretty good.テつ
We kind of went with a hybrid set‑up of wet and dry, because it looked like it was going to go dry, and picked off a couple people in the wet.テつ Just trying to stay out of trouble.テつ It was tough out there, and there were some guys driving a little bonsai, and kind of making sure you weren't in a position to get taken out was the name of the game in the first half of the race.テつ
The first stop was great, picked up a few more places there, and the crew made that decision on the yellow to stay out.テつ Honestly, at first we did it for weather, but the weather held off.テつ At the end of the day it was actually yellows that saved us.テつ At first I was cursing the yellows that were coming out because we needed to green to get the gap to have a better shot at it when we did stop.テつ
But a one‑stop strategy, who thought that was going to play out here today?テつ So super proud of everybody at Schmidt.テつ To have a second race together and already have a win is awesome.テつ They have a thing about first races.テつ They seem to do really well there, and to get Honda back on top, it's just a great race all around.テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ It's almost fitting that you drive to victory here.テつ You've been in this market a lot, since we announced our race team participating in the Mardi Gras parade.テつ Talk about the race as an experience and the city as an experience as well?テつ
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ Yeah, I came down here last June for the announcement that we were going to be doing a race here, and seeing how far the track has come is incredible.テつ The entire crew here have done an excellent job.テつ Kristin, Tim all those guys deserve a huge amount of credit and IndyCar for pulling it off.テつ
When we got to come down for Mardi Gras, that was a pretty unique experience in and of itself.テつ Getting to see the local culture and getting to be a part of that, and at the same time seeing how everybody was looking forward to the race.テつ Everybody heard of the track.テつ Everybody heard that IndyCar was coming to town, and it wasn't that a race was coming to town, they knew IndyCar was coming to town and that's not something we see all the time.テつ So to have them have that kind of enthusiasm and come out and sit through what was not exactly an ideal weekend weatherwise, it means a lot to us.テつ So I hope they enjoyed it, and we can't wait to come back next year and hopefully put on an even better show.

Q.テつ (No Microphone).テつ
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ No, for sure.テつ I mean, getting Honda back on top was huge.テつ If you look at the times after the first practice, and maybe it looked a little iffy, but that's the best thing about IndyCar Racing is you never know what's going to happen in these races.テつ For us, qualifying getting rained out was unfortunate because I genuinely think we found a decent amount of pace by qualifying whether it was on the wet or the dry.テつ Luckily, we got ourselves in a position to run up front, and on those restarts, Honda power was good, the aero kit was good, and we were pulling away from a Penske, so we can't really complain at this point.

Q.テつ (No Microphone).テつ
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ No, you know what?テつ I actually had to turn it off because we were overheating at the end there, but it was still close.テつ I was trying to save so much fuel under caution there.テつ I've got the fuel tank reading on my dash, and I was kind of putting my thumb over it under caution there, because I didn't want to see how low it was getting.テつ
You know, it's just one of those things.テつ I mean, the yellows played out.テつ I'm happy that we did have the pace on those restarts.テつ We were pulling away from guys.テつ So I feel a little more justified it wasn't completely a strategy thing.テつ We did survive a couple restarts where a lot of guys were having problems.テつ We had the pace to do that.テつ But for sure the fuel was getting tight at the end there.テつ
I wasn't allowed to do donuts.テつ Let's put it that way.テつ We thought I'd run out of gas.

Q.テつ (No Microphone).テつ
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ Yeah, it's ironic that on the wet we managed to be well‑behaved and in the dry we all run into each other.テつ Doesn't seem like that makes a whole lot of sense.テつ It really is unfortunate because a lot of good cars had really bad days.テつ I feel bad for those guys certainly.テつ Like I said, the big loser here was the fans because they didn't get as much green flag racing as we would have liked and they would have liked.テつ The saving grace is that when we were green, it was pretty dicey.テつ It was a lot of action on track.テつ So we'll, I think I heard T.K.'s comment in the St. Pete's press conference about us not run into each other as much and clearly that didn't happen.テつ
But part of it was just tricky conditions.テつ There was a river running across the last corner.テつ There is a reason why we saw a lot of guys spinning coming to restarts.テつ You're on slicks, and there are still puddles and rivers running across the track, it's not easy.テつ It was just about being smart out there was the biggest thing.テつ And, unfortunately, a couple people got caught out.

Q.テつ (No Microphone)?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ No, actually the first guy through the puddle is usually the biggest disadvantage because each car that goes through it kicks up more and more water, and by 20th place it's not as bad.テつ When we started having those cautions there after the original sort of stops and switched to slicks, the track wasn't too bad because we had been running.テつ Once we started going yellow and yellow and yellow, the puddles started growing and growing and growing.テつ And, yeah, the first guy through them is usually in the worst position, so we were lucky to hold on there.

Q.テつ (No Microphone)?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ Yeah, I mean, it's awesome driving for Sam and for Rick, being the Canadian team owner, and a team owner that I raced for in Indy Lights.テつ He really helped bring me into this world and taught me about oval racing and the IndyCar world in general.テつ So to have come full circle and get back to race with him was great.テつ
It's funny, I never even actually won a race for Sam in Lights.テつ All my wins came the following year.テつ It's definitely a lot better ‑‑ I'd much rather do it at this level and give him one of these because he deserves it.テつ All the guys deserve it.テつ Alan and Robert and Will, and all the guys on the stand that made that call.テつ That's not an easy risk to take, but we did it, and it paid off.テつ So they deserve this one, for sure.

Q.テつ (No Microphone)?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ To be honest, we never got five and six.テつ Mainly five sort of all weekend.テつ We kind of were having to drive around it a little bit, so there is definitely work to do on the dry set‑up and on the wet.テつ In Q1 there we caught a lucky break with the Bourdais penalty to get in.テつ
We realized a pretty big mistake we made in Q1, so we were going to be better in Q2.テつ Honestly, the track is pretty good.テつ The car was really solid other than in turn five.テつ It's tough to tune out the rest of the racetrack just for that one corner.テつ So we'll definitely look back on it.テつ It just proves we can be even stronger when we come back here next year.

Q.テつ (No Microphone)?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ Obviously, it's great when you come to a new team, you want to reach that level as quickly as possible.テつ 2014 was frustrating in a lot of ways.テつ We had that speed, and we were in that position a bunch of times to take wins and take podiums, and it just didn't happen for us.テつ It's nice to know the curse is kind of broken, and I could give the guys at Schmidt Peterson the faith in me that we could be race winners together.

Q.テつ (No Microphone).テつ
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ Yeah, the race is over so I can tell you now.テつ It's funny, the biggest puddle was right on the exit on the outside of the normal racing line, so you had to drive through an entire river first.テつ Then there was half a puddle after that.テつ For some reason a lot of guys were staying on the normal racing line and driving through that puddle for no reason.テつ The first one everybody had to hit.テつ The second one was a little more avoidable.テつ
I saw some guys doing it and some guys not.テつ Obviously, that's what I was trying to do is keep the rears out of the water and it all worked out.テつ I mean, I got pretty sideways a couple times on some of those restarts.テつ And you'll spin up to third gear.テつ That's just a tricky situation.テつ It's not super surprising we had incidents out there.

Q.テつ (No Microphone)?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ Man, flash to our indication (Indiscernible), but hopefully we've learned our lessons.テつ That's a track I love.テつ That's a track I've always run really well at.テつ We're obviously in a position fighting for the win last year.テつ Got my first podium IndyCar there.テつ My first Lights pole there, and my first Lights win there, so it really is a track that's treated me well and I really enjoy.テつ Hopefully we've got a good fast car.テつ We qualify up front.テつ We actually had a chance to qualify and get up front.テつ We'll let whatever happened behind us happen and just kind of push forward.

Q.テつ (No Microphone)?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ No doubt.テつ Whenever you're racing IndyCar in the rain it's incredibly taxing mentally.テつ Visibility was shocking.テつ There were some pretty big puddles on the track.テつ So it's very tough.テつ But, for me, this one is going to go down in the memory as winning the first race the inaugural event at any track is always special.テつ
As Kate said, I've been a big part of the promotion for this race, and I've gotten to know Laney and Ruth really well, and Kristin and Tim all the guys here that have been putting this event on.テつ Obviously, the ASM people that have been helping promote it are all former colleagues of mine at Andretti.テつ It is kind of like a big family down here now.テつ So to be able to come out on top in that first race means a lot, and that's how I'll remember it.

Q.テつ (No Microphone)?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ Man, probably not, because that was a big one.テつ Like I said, we were really relying on weather coming.テつ But obviously that didn't happen.テつ So another yellow, we would have come up short.テつ So I think back to Iowa last year when we did take the gamble on tires.テつ I was one position ahead of Hunter‑Reay and he pits for tires, we stay out and he wins the race.テつ We finished fifth or whatever.テつ So sometimes you have to roll the dice and go for it.テつ
From where we were in 9th, I think, at the time or 10th, something like that, it made sense.テつ If we were going to do it the same as everyone else, we were going to run around in about that place because it was tough to pass today short of guys making mistakes.テつ I was kind of 50‑50 on it when they made the call when I saw nobody else stay out.テつ But that's why those guys do what they do, and that's why I just shut up and drive the car.

Q.テつ (No Microphone)?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ That was not a formal one, no, no.

Q.テつ (No Microphone)?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ No, I'll get her something smaller when that time comes.テつ I don't want to set her expectations too high.テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ James, congratulations, we'll see you next week.テつ
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ Thank you so much.テつ

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