Hinchcliffe grabs 1st victory since near-fatal 2015 accident

Hope Soto
April 13, 2017

James Hinchliffe took the checker flag to win the 43rd Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday.

Not only did Chevrolet have its best finish in the third spot - Newgarden drives for Team Penske - it had a driver suffer an injury.

Helio Castroneves won the pole position on Saturday for the third straight time.

"She probably won't even watch the race", said Power, of Penske Racing.

"But the auto was great and the team worked really hard. We came as close as humanly possible in Texas past year and didn't quite get the job done".

"The Honda-Chevy competition is as tight as it's ever been", he said, "and it is anybody's guess who is going to win the championship or let alone who is going to win the next race".

He now has conquered one of them.

"It is great to get my first podium for the Captain (Roger Penske) and now our next step is a win", said Newgarden. "To get in the winner's circle was huge".

Hinchcliffe, who led for 25 laps, expounded on that.

Hinchcliffe and Bourdais' cars both had Honda engines. "Who wouldn't want that?!"

"You know, 43 years running". Alexander Rossi is out to prove the Indy 500 a year ago was not a fluke.

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Hinchcliffe's near-death accident was freakish.

Upon hitting the Turn 3 wall, a piece of the car's right front suspension was driven through his right leg and pelvis, leading to massive blood loss and a lengthy rehabilitation. "It's just so nice to be back".

"It's a really good chemistry and its all coming on top of what already existed", Bourdais said. "This does feel different".

"At that point you're second-guessing, 'Maybe did we do the wrong thing.' Luckily it played into our favor". "Because I was the third vehicle, so I was so far back, I was catching those guys".

Hinchcliffe won his first Indy Lights race here in 2010 and now is back on the board to give Honda its second win of the season, thanks to a two-stop pit strategy.

He was the only driver to complete every lap with just two pit stops.

That Indianapolis crash obviously changed his life and his career, and it was part of the reason "Dancing with the Stars" was so interested in telling his story. "It's an awesome story, nothing less than incredible".

"We knew it was going to be very close", Hunter-Reay said. "We lost balance a little bit, and I was really thinking about saving second place".

Dale Coyne Racing's Bourdais made it a 1-2 podium finish for Honda-powered cars as he followed his season-opening win at St. Petersburg, Florida with a second-place. Hinchcliffe is second with 74.

Marco Andretti of Andretti Autosport had Friday's second fastest time of 1:07.3576, Simon Pagenaud (Penske) was third at 1:07.3797, Takuma Sato (Andretti Autosport) fourth at 1:07.5538 and Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport) was fifth at 1:07.5698. I won the race there previous year so I have some great memories of the place. Ed Jones is again the lone rookie as he and Spencer Pigot are the only two in the field who have never raced Indy Cars here.

But even more dramatic, Hunter-Reay's vehicle died with five laps to go, with what he thought was an electrical issue. Meanwhile, JR Hildebrand broke a bone in his left hand after a last-lap collision with Mikhail Aleshin.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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