Indy 500 polesitter Hinchcliffe wishes he had turned off dashboard

IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe says he wishes he had turned his in-car digital display off for the run that secured pole for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500

Indy 500 polesitter Hinchcliffe wishes he had turned off dashboard

A year after nearly losing his life in a practice accident at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Canadian claimed pole with an average speed of 230.760mph on Sunday.

The Schmidt-Peterson driver was last to run in the nine-man shootout for pole, and admits that having a target was handy but also a distraction.

"The benefit of going out last is you know what you have to beat and I'm seeing the numbers on my dash and I'm doing the math in my head," Hinchcliffe said.

"I actually toyed with the idea of turning my dash off so I couldn't see anything.

"In hindsight I probably should have because I probably didn't breathe on that last lap."

As the provisional polesitter, Hinchcliffe elected not to run in Sunday's pre-shootout practice session, preferring to stick with what he knew from the previous day.

"It was a easy call to make [on Saturday] but then every other team in the fast nine went out and practiced," Hinchcliffe said.

"We were worried at 1:30 if we went out and practiced we would confuse ourselves and overthink it.

"We knew what the car would be like at 5:30 on Saturday so there was no reason why it wouldn't be good at 5:30 [on Sunday]."

All three of team owner Sam Schmidt's Honda-powered cars will start next Sunday's race inside the top 10, with Mikhail Aleshin seventh and Oriol Servia 10th.

Schmidt believes Hinchcliffe can win on his return to the speedway, following his practice crash on May 18 last year, in which a suspension component pierced his Dallara's cockpit.

"James, he's kind of downplaying this thing," Schmidt, himself a quadriplegic following a racing crash, said.

"But I was there a year ago, and he was not nearly as pretty as he is right now.

"It takes a hell of a lot of heart. I've been through some pretty scary things in my life, too.

"I was there last year for the first 24 hours after the crash and he was not doing very well.

"The second words out of his mouth were, 'When can I race again?'

"I knew he could be back. We wanted this really badly. And he can win this race next Sunday.

"Coming back from what he did last year, that is what true movies are made of.

"I hope they make this one. I can't think of a better ending than to win this thing next Sunday."

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Series IndyCar
Drivers James Hinchcliffe
Author Bruce Martin
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