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February 18, 2014

James Hinchcliffe

THE MODERATOR:テつ We're joined by James Hinchcliffe.テつ
Tell us a little bit about the transition that you've seen so far in your limited amount of testing from the Chevy to the Honda engine and your prospects for 2014.テつ
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ It was a big change.テつ It was kind of cool to see actually.テつ The transition from the old car to the 12, it's a completely different engine.テつ You expect it to be very different and it was.テつ
Jumping into the Honda for the first time, it was interesting to see how an engine built under the same rules could feel as different as this one did.テつ It's fast.テつ
I enjoy the technical part of our sport.テつ Getting to work with a new partner on that side of things is a fun challenge.テつ At the end of the day we have no idea where anybody stands and we probably won't until we get to St. Pete.テつ Even Barber, people aren't going to show their full hands.テつ
A lot of changes, changing in engineering, changes in sponsor.テつ A lot of fun things to look forward to for the season, but we started well short of making any sort of expectations this season.テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ Five weeks out until St. Petersburg.テつ You'll want to get back to a place with good memories.テつ Recap how special that was for you.テつ
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ St. Pete has been a special race for as long as I've been going there for me.テつ It's such a cool event.テつ Being out there on the water, it's a cool atmosphere.テつ It's a cool backdrop for the race.テつ I'm pretty sure Hunter-Reay parks his mega yacht out there for race week anyway.テつ
As far as the street circuit goes, the track is really cool because, you know, the biggest complaint on street circuits is you can't pass.テつ That's not a problem at St. Pete.テつ I think we've seen enough passes and attempted passes go terribly wrong.テつ It's always been a cool event.テつ
Obviously with what happened last year, it holds a special place in my heart.テつ It was a very emotional day last year on race day for all the right reasons.テつ That's nice 'cause I think in racing you normally have very emotional days for the wrong reasons more often than you do for all the right ones.テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ James also last week had an agreement with Honda Canada where you'll be promoting their multiple lines of products across your native land.テつ
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ It's something I'm very excited about.テつ They've been such huge supporters of IndyCar in Canada.テつ They supported Paul for a number of years.テつ It's great to see that sort of a company take that initiative with IndyCar.テつ Driving a Honda on the racetrack makes it easy.テつ It's just a great partnership.テつ I'm excited for some of the things we have there.テつ There's promotional work we're doing.テつ Just another fun element to the year, I think.テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ Questions.テつ

Q.テつ St. Petersburg, every time you've raced there you've done very well.テつ Just something about that town, the track that stands out to you?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ I think I've been fortunate that I've been in good equipment.テつ I've only raced there twice because I missed it my rookie year.テつ Andretti Autosports has always given me good cars there.テつ We traditionally run well there and Long Beach.テつ
It's a neat race because if you get behind the eight ball a little bit you can come back.テつ Like I said, the ability to pass.テつ You can get off strategy and have it work with the distance of the race.テつ
Yeah, I don't know, something about it that seems to gel well with me.テつ That's good, man.テつ I need that at as many tracks as I can.テつ

Q.テつ Getting off strategy works well for you?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ Last year was a little more straightforward.テつ We kind of threw the tire strategy dice a little bit last year.テつ That helped us.テつ If we had been on reds at the end when Helio was, he was taking better care of them, the blacks weren't as quick, we needed them to make that last stint if it was going to go all green, which it did.テつ We took a little bit of a gamble on the tire there, went with the slower one.テつ That's where we needed to be, so it was good.テつ

Q.テつ If you keep getting more memories there, you'll consider moving to St. Pete?テつ
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ I was actually having that conversation a few days ago, that if I had to leave Indy, that's one of the places on the short list, for sure.テつ

Q.テつ Talk a little bit about the testing you've done so far.テつ Last year the tire seemed to change, made it difficult for teams to find the right setup.テつ Do you notice any difference this year?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ We've had another small compound adjustment for 2014, but it seems to be a smaller change than the 2012 to 2013 tires.テつ A lot closer to the 2013.テつ By and large, teams will be able to stay primarily with their same setups.テつ
The nature of our testing, we don't do a lot of long single runs at this stage in the off-season.テつ Probably won't get there until Barber to see what sort of longevity we get out of them.テつ
Initial impressions are good.テつ Another good tire from Firestone.テつ Not much of a story because they're too good at their job.テつ

Q.テつ Did you steal Josef's engineer, is that what happened?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ I did.テつ I went to his house where he normally keeps his engineer in a cage in the basement.テつ I broke in while he was sleeping.テつ Nathan made a lot of noise, rattled the cage.テつ It woke Josef, which made for an ugly altercation on the main floor.テつ I was able to use chloroform.テつ I said, Josef, does this smell like chloroform?テつ Then Nathan and I made it out the window.テつ

Q.テつ No repercussions?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ No.テつ We were just goofing around outside.テつ The chloroform had a destructive effect on his memory and he thinks Nathan is still in the basement.テつ He hasn't figured it out yet.テつ

Q.テつ You have a new engineer and are happy about it?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ Yes.テつ It's definitely tough to lose Craig.テつ We've done two years together, my first wins together.テつ He comes with a boatload of experience and technical knowledge.テつ
He is taking sort of a sidestep in the team.テつ In a lot of these situations, when you lose an engineer, you lose them to another team.テつ We moved him to an R&D role.テつ He's somebody working on the ground even when we're at races.テつ A lot of teams have these people.テつ For the team as a whole, I think it's a great step, a great move.テつ
Nathan on my car in particular, he seems to be very similar to Craig in a lot of ways, which makes the learning how each other works process pretty quick and easy.テつ
He's young, he's hungry.テつ He hasn't won a billion races like Craig.テつ He's really keen to get some results.テつ That's good.テつ I know he's going to work hard.テつ The testing we've done together, the relationship and chemistry is there.テつ He's very logical.テつ He's not super emotional, which is sometimes good in an engineer.テつ
Yeah, I'm hoping that means that sort of similarity in working method will mean we can hit the ground running in St. Pete.テつ

Q.テつ You had two interesting years.テつ The first one, I'm referring to you started off strong, kind of nose-dived.テつ Last year was either feast or famine.テつ How do you get to a point where you put together an even year and maybe are a championship contender?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ There's only so many derivatives.テつ Eventually I'm going to get it right.テつ Last year we had the pace early but not the consistency.テつ If you look at the second half of the year, we were actually way more consistent than people realize.テつ I think as a team we lost a little bit of pace.テつ We weren't qualifying as well, Ryan wasn't qualifying as well.テつ
In Baltimore, I got caught up in other people's accidents twice, restarted twice, we still finished seventh.テつ Houston race one, fine.テつ Houston race two, finished on the podium.テつ Fontana was running third.テつ Got into Will on a restart, broke away, went two laps down, came back to finish fourth.テつ At the end of the year we had that good, never-give-up attitude, pulled some decent results out of some bad situations.テつ
We didn't have the overall pace at that point of the year.テつ So I think we actually ended the year on more of a high than people realized, which is fine.テつ As long as we know it, what we were doing to get that, that could put us in a good position for this year.テつ

Q.テつ What did the win in St. Pete do for your confidence, showing you belong?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ I think it did a lot.テつ We talked a little bit about it in the press conference at St. Pete.テつ It was kind of proof that the class clown could still be serious when he needed to.テつ
For me personally on track it made a big difference because when I was then in situations later in the year where a win was on the line, I felt a lot less pressure because I think there was a big amount of pressure to get that first win and be part of that group, so to speak.テつ Not all of us can win six races a year like Will Power, we have to take what we can get.テつ
I think it really does free your mind up a little bit when you're in those circumstances, again knowing that, Hey, I've been here, I know I can do it, let's focus and get the job done, rather than make yourself overanalyze and make a mistake.テつ

Q.テつ Is it weird not being in the Go Daddy green?
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ It is a little bit weird.テつ Exciting at the same time.テつ They were honestly a tremendous partner two years with me, three with Danica.テつ They did a lot for IndyCar, a lot for me personally.テつ I have nothing but good feelings towards them and wish them the best in everything moving forward.テつ
But at the same time I'm very excited about the new sponsor.テつ I've been pretty lucky.テつ Obviously with Go Daddy I had this irreverent sponsor who were not super in-the-box corporate image people.テつ That kind of allowed me to be the natural jackass that I am.テつ
With UFD, though not publicly the kind of company you know them as, the people behind them are very much fun-loving.テつ They're rock stars.テつ It's essentially owned by the band LIVE.テつ My owners are rock stars.テつ They get it.テつ They don't mind having fun, letting me be off the wall.テつ I've been fortunate.テつ I think this partnership is going to produce some pretty fun things on track, off track.テつ
It's weird being in blue now, but I think it's a good change.テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ James, thank you.テつ
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE:テつ Thank you, everyone.テつ

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