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James Hinchcliffe Victorious in Long Beach

by Ryan Stringfield
Posted April 18, 2010 at 2:49 pm Indy Lights

James Hinchcliffe Captures First Career Indy Lights Victory at Long Beach
(photo: IndyCar.com)

James Hinchcliffe claimed his first career Indy Lights victory today under sunny skies on the streets of Long Beach, Calif.  The 23-year-old Canadian managed restarts perfectly and drove flag-to-flag in today’s 45-lap race.  American Charlie Kimball passed Frenchman J.K. Vernay at the start of today’s race and managed to hold the position for the remainder of the race.

The race at the front was relatively uneventful after the start.  The only change inside the top-5 occurred on Lap-7 when Sebastian Saavedra passed Martin Plowman for fourth position.  From that point on, the top-5 remained unchanged: James Hinchcliffe, Charlie Kimball, J.K. Vernay, Sebastian Saavedra and Martin Plowman.

Despite a relatively tame race at the front of the pack, the race was anything but uneventful for the rest of the 18-car field.

During the opening laps a great battle ensued between Junior Strous, Stefan Wilson, James Winslow and Tonis Kasemets.  On lap-10, Strous put his car into the tire barriers at the exit of turn-9.  Shortly after that, Rodrigo Barbosa spun in turn-1 resulting in the first full course caution.  Barbosa was eventually parked by race control after spinning again in turn-1 on lap-30, which resulted in the second full course caution.

The caution flags seemed to come in waves from the mid-point of the race onward.  On lap-34, Adrian Campos Jr. put his car deep into the tire barriers at the exit of turn-1, taking two corners off his car in the process.  It was, by far, the biggest impact of the race, but, fortunately, he climbed out of the car unhurt following the incident.

The field returned to green flag racing on lap-38 with 7-laps to go.  However, that green flag was short lived as another full course caution came out following the restart, this time involving Gustavo Yacaman, who was running sixth.  He claimed to have been punted into the outside tire barriers by Tonis Kasemets near the famous Long Beach fountain.  In a post crash interview, the 19-year-old Colombian called out Indy Lights’ race director Tony Cotman for not parking Tonis Kasemets.  Yacaman claimed that Kasemets took him out of the race by repeatedly bumping him from behind.  He claimed that Kasemets did the same thing to Philip Major as well.

“You cannot allow nutjobs [referring to Tonis] like that driving around the course,” stated Yacaman following the incident.

Meanwhile, with four laps to go, the field went back to green on lap-42.  The on track incidents weren’t done yet, though.  On the white flag lap, Philip Major made contact with his Sam Schmidt Motorsports teammate James Winslow – sending Winslow into the barriers, ending his day.  It was a truly unfortunate end of the day for Winslow as the 29-year-old British driver was having a tremendous drive.  He was running 6th, at the time of the incident, after starting 14th.  Ironically, despite the bad luck, Winslow was awarded a $1,000 in the Firestone Lucky-3 drawing following the race.  The Lucky-3 award is given to 3 drivers who finish outside the top-ten, winners are selected via a random drawing- hence the word “lucky”.

The race was wrapped up shortly after Winslow’s incident with James Hinchcliffe earning his first career win. Hinchcliffe set the fastest lap of the day with a 1:15.3236.  Rookie Niall Quinn earned the hard charger award following Winslow’s DNF.  Quinn started the race 17th and finished 9th – improving 8 positions in 45-laps.

The race was 45-laps in length, running for 1:03:41.4082, featuring 4 caution flags for a total of 8-laps.

Full results from today’s Firestone Indy Lights race after the jump.

Firestone Indy Lights- Grand Prix of Long Beach
Race Results

  1. James Hinchcliffe
  2. Charlie Kimball
  3. J.K. Vernay
  4. Sebastian Saavedra
  5. Martin Plowman
  6. Tonis Kasemets
  7. Philip Major
  8. Pippa Mann
  9. Niall Quinn
  10. Carmen Jorda
  11. Joel Miller
  12. James Winslow (DNF)
  13. Dan Clarke (mechanical)
  14. Gustavo Yacaman (DNF)
  15. Adrian Campos Jr. (DNF)
  16. Rodrigo Barbosa (DNF)
  17. Stefan Wilson (mechanical- fuel pressure)
  18. Junior Strous (DNF)

One Comment

  1. rick on April 18, 2010 8:01 pm

    That’s the problem with Long Beach. It’s very easy to drive defensively and hold position since there are so few passing areas. Lead changes almost never occur without a driver mistake allowing the pass. Boring racing is the result.

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