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Hinchcliffe can’t shake slump

Sat., July 13, 2013

James Hinchcliffe’s bid to break his most recent slump didn’t get off to the greatest start in his return to hometown Toronto.

Coming off a disastrous race at Pocono Raceway, Hinchcliffe is hoping for a strong showing at Exhibition Place.

Instead, he failed to advance out of the first round of qualifying Friday for the first of two races in Toronto. He’s scheduled to start 14th in today’s race, the first of a doubleheader weekend.

Hinchcliffe barely missed advancing into the second round, calling it “heartbreaking to miss it by so little.” But he was buoyed by the layout at Toronto, which has plenty of passing places unlike many of IndyCar’s street circuits.

It was an overall off day for the four Andretti Autosport entries, especially a week after Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Hinchcliffe swept the front row at Pocono. But at Toronto, no Andretti drivers advanced to the final Fast Six round of qualifying, marking the first time all season the team is not represented in the last group.

But the most glaring omission was Hinchcliffe, who is under extreme pressure to perform in Toronto and promised during an interview aired on the PA system to “put on a better show tomorrow.”

It drew rousing cheers from a crowd hungry to see a Canadian win at home.

He needs it in at least one of the two races this weekend after Sunday’s disaster at Pocono, where he started on the front row but crashed out of the race in the first turn of the first lap.

It’s been that kind of feast-or-famine season for Hinchcliffe, who has three wins on the year. But through 11 races, he’s either finished first or last six times.

Pit stops

Brad Keselowski turned a lap of 135.922 mph to set a track record and win the pole at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. … Dario Franchitti won the pole for the first of two weekend races through the streets of Toronto. … IndyCar has given an outside organization the rights to operate its Indy Lights feeder series beginning in 2014. The multiyear agreement with Andersen Promotions gives the company all three rings in the “Mazda Road to Indy” ladder system. … Kevin Harvick will take his Budweiser sponsorship with him when he moves to Stewart-Haas Racing next season. Harvick will drive the No. 4 Chevrolet for SHR. … Defending MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo of Spain crashed in practice for the German GP and might be forced out of the race.


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