James Hinchcliffe of Canada, driver of the No. 5 Schmidt Peterson Motosports Honda IndyCar, is introduced before the Phoenix Grand Prix at Phoenix International Raceway on April 2, 2016 in Avondale, Arizona.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
A year after a life-threatening crash during practice for last year’s Indianapolis 500, Canadian James Hinchcliffe is back home and searching for his first victory of the season.
The 29-year-old Hinchcliffe said he is feeling good entering Sunday’s race.
"The craziest thing about it is I’m healthier, fitter now than I’ve ever been," Hinchcliffe said Wednesday. "When you’re in a position like that, you start paying a lot for attention to yourself, to your body. And now I know a lot more about myself personally and physically."
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Hinchcliffe was badly injured during the practice session for the Indy 500 last year and in danger of bleeding to death before he was saved by crews at the track and doctors at a nearby hospital. He missed the rest of the season.
The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver does have five top-10 finishes entering the Toronto race, including a third-place finish at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis in May. He finished seventh at this year’s Indy 500 and ninth last weekend in Iowa.
"It’s been a roller-coaster ride," Hinchcliffe said. "We’re proving the paces week in and week out, we just need luck to fall our way a little bit. Not something that’s traditionally been in my cards at this race, but hopefully we can buck the trend this week."
Hinchcliffe said good qualifying is going to be key if he hopes to win this weekend.
"This track, although you can pass, it’s a street course, it’s still tough," he said. "But the big focus for us is going to make sure we’re quick over the lap, get a good qualifying position, and that usually helps a lot in trying to get that first victory."
A win at home would also be a sweet feeling for the 2011 IndyCar series rookie of the year.
"I mean, short of winning the 500, this is as exciting as it gets for me to bring home a victory here," Hinchcliffe said. "We’ve done it on street courses before in St. Pete and Brazil so we know how to do it. It’s just a matter of getting all the pieces to fall into place. It will be a big celebration in Hinchtown if that happens."