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IndyCar Season Preview: James Hinchcliffe

Photo credit: Greg Hildebrand (CC BY-NC-ND)

#27 GoDaddy.com Dallara-Chevrolet, Andretti Autosport

Born: December 5, 1986

Home: Oakville, Ontario

2011 HIGHLIGHTS: Hinchcliffe established himself as the most consistent young driver on the IndyCar circuit, finishing 12th in the standings and earning Rookie of the Year honors for Newman/Haas Racing. He scored a best finish of fourth place three times, at Long Beach, Loudon, and Kentucky.

2011 LOWLIGHTS: Despite strong offseason tests, a preliminary lack of sponsorship kept Hinchcliffe from competing in the first round at St. Petersburg. He also suffered three DNFs, including a lap 101 crash in his first Indianapolis 500.

SEASON OUTLOOK: After paying his dues in American junior formulas for the past five years, the “Mayor of Hinchtown” finally broke into the sport’s highest level with one of its most prestigious teams in 2011. After Newman/Haas Racing shut down and left him without a ride, however, he managed to land on his feet with Andretti Autosport, taking over the GoDaddy.com ride vacated by Danica Patrick and the passing of Dan Wheldon.

Andretti is a front of the pack team, and Hinchcliffe has as much potential as any young driver in IndyCar. He’ll be looked upon to provide solid and consistent finishes, as the team may have its strongest lineup since 2005, when it was still known as Andretti Green Racing. If Hinchcliffe can carve himself a niche with both the team and sponsor, this could be one of the enduring partnerships of the decade, much like Andretti once had with Tony Kanaan and 7-Eleven.

– Chris Leone

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