James Hinchcliffe of Oakville is being touted for the pole at Indianapolis this weekend.
Indy 500 time trials for pole position are scheduled for Saturday – the race itself will happen on Sun, May 27 – and Hinch has been sneaking up in the top ten all week.
Tuesday, he was third fastest after holding the top spot for most of the day. His Andretti Autosport teammate Marco Andretti topped the charts with a run of 223.676 miles an hour, followed by Helio Castroneves at 222 and change and Hinchcliffe at 221.864 mph.
Indianapolis Star reporter Michael Pointer wrote the following, interesting, observation late Tuesday:
"It's nearing happy hour out at the Speedway, so let's take a quick look at James Hinchclife, who has today's fastest lap and the second-fastest of the month (this was before Marco and Helio set their times).
"He isn't the household name like Andretti or Rahal, but he's been about as consistent as one can be early in the IndyCar season, never finishing lower than sixth. He's third in points. He finished 29th in the 500 last year, but put together a solid rookie season in IndyCar with seven top-10 finishes while driving for Newman/Haas Racing.
"This year, he moved to Andretti Autosport and is best-known for succeeding Danica Patrick in the GoDaddy car here at Indy. Looks like he has a shot to grab the pole this weekend, too."
Wow. Wouldn’t that be something.
Of course, Canadians own the pole at Indianapolis. Alex Tagliani sat on it last year. He’s not going to be there this year, though, judging by his practice times which have been okay but certainly not startling.
Kurt Busch was fined $50,000 and put on probation until late July for that tustle in pit lane at Darlington last Saturday night. The melee started after Busch ran into the back of Ryan Newman’s car on pit road, which he said was an accident while he was taking off his helmet.
(You’ve got to hand it to Kurt and his brother. They sure can come up with some colourful excuses, can’t they?)
And a member of Busch’s pit crew was fined $5,000 and put on probation until the end of the year for interfering with a member of the broadcast media. He tried to stop a Fox cameraman from recording the incident by putting his hands over the camera lense.
I raged against that little twerp in my Monday Morning roundup. Never mind probation; he should have been kicked right out of NASCAR, period.
If it's not for TV, drivers like Kurt Busch wouldn't have $50,000 to pay fines. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.
There are 10 race drivers from Quebec listed among the 29 entered in the Vortex Brake Pads 200 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race that will kick off the 2012 season at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on Sunday.
Isabelle Trembley, Derek White, Andrew Ranger, Ray Courtemanche Jr., L.P. Dumoulin, Dexter Stacey, Martin Roy, Dave Coursol, Hugo Vaninni and Steve Cote’s names are all on the entry list.
Two guys will haul in from Northern Ontario – Steve Mathews from New Liskeard and Michael Scholz from Sault Ste. Marie. And there are six rookies entered. Great stuff!
By the way, veterans Kerry Micks and Mark Dilley have teamed up for the 2012 season with Micks driving the road course races and Dilley the ovals.
The NASCAR race is the headline event of the track’s Victoria Day Speedfest Weekend and is scheduled to go to the post at 1:30 Sunday afternoon.
Meantime, I want to clear something up. I wrote in my Monday Morning roundup that I couldn't understand penalties for speeding through yellow flags of the kind that were handed out to two drivers in Sunday's Grand Prix of Spain.
I was upbraided by one commenter, in particular, who said it was obvious I'd never been a marshal because they risk their lives by going out on the track and could be killed by race cars that don't slow down (or words to that effect).
I have been consistent in my position on this for years and years: if (as I said in that blog item) there is any danger whatsoever, they should send out the safety car.
Oval track racing, where I cut my racing teeth, is much safer in this regard because any time anything happens on the speedway to impede flat-out racing, the yellow is thrown, the pace car sent out and racing is not allowed to resume until the all-clear.
I feel the same way about road racing. Yes, when Grands Prix were held on circuits that were 15 miles around, like the old Nurburgring, I could understand a "local" yellow. But not any more. The cars go too quickly around modern F1 circuits.
If something untoward happens at, say, Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal, a speeding F1 car can go from that spot all the way around the track and back again in about one minute and 15 seconds, which is not enough time for marshalls or anyone else to clean up debris, for instance.
There should be a full-course caution so corner workers, marshals, et al, can go about their tasks safely. Then, when everything is cleaned up and the coast is clear, they can withdraw the safety car and racing can resume.
So that's why I say boo to penalties for speeding through a yellow flag. In my world, there shouldn't be any "local yellows" to being with.