Canada’s James Hinchcliffe ready for Genesys 300 as IndyCar takes the stage

Canada’s James Hinchcliffe ready for Genesys 300 as IndyCar takes the stage

IndyCar is returning to live competition virtually unopposed on television and Canada’s James Hinchcliffe is ready to take full advantage.

The Oakville, Ont., native will be on the grid Saturday night as the Genesys 300 runs at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. It’s the first race of an IndyCar season delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic but it’s still a return to form well ahead of other professional sports like the NHL, NBA, or Major League Baseball.

“I’m really hoping that it’s not just racing fans that are tuning in, but sports fans, just people that are craving some real life sport,” said Hinchcliffe on Friday. “Hopefully it exposes our sport to another chunk of sports fans that maybe weren’t avid watchers before and we could put on a good show and hopefully make them fans for life.”

IndyCar also built up its following in the early stages of the pandemic, airing virtual online races as real drivers —including Hinchcliffe — competed with each other on the iRacing simulator.

Hinchcliffe is eager to get back on a real track and “feel the wind in his hair” but was pleased with the reception iRacing got from IndyCar fans and a broader demographic of sports fans. It was a bright spot for him as IndyCar had to cancel six of its races, including the Honda Indy Toronto that was originally scheduled for July 12.

Although Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an order on May 28 allowing sporting events to have spectators up to 25 per cent of a venue’s capacity, IndyCar has elected to keep the stands at Texas Motor Speedway empty.

“Nobody wants to have the stands filled with fans more than me but we’re just not in a position to do that yet,” said track president Eddie Gossage said in a statement. “While the state will permit us to operate at 25 per cent of capacity, there are still too many unanswered questions for an event that is just one week away.”

Hinchcliffe is disappointed on behalf of the fans, but says that, from a driver’s perspective, when the race starts all they can see or hear is the road and the other cars.

“It’s unfortunate for the fans that they can’t be there, that we don’t get to share this with them. There’s nothing quite like being at an IndyCar race in person,” said Hinchcliffe. “Compared to other sports I can think of, being in a hockey game or basketball, baseball, football, we don’t get the same sort of stadium effects from the fans that players in those sports do.”

Hinchcliffe began 2020 with his season in doubt after being cut loose by Arrow McLaren SP in the off-season. But a sponsorship deal with Genesys and a three-race deal with Andretti Motorsport got Hinchcliffe back on the IndyCar schedule.

After Texas he’ll be back behind the wheel on July 4 for the GMR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and then again for the Indianapolis 500 at the same venue, which has been moved from its traditional date on May 24 and shifted to Aug. 23.

“I think everybody’s eyes are already looking to August and the Indy 500,” said Hinchcliffe. “It’s crazy to think that we didn’t get to do it when we normally would have this year.

“Being in Indianapolis during the month of May and over Memorial Day weekend was kind of eerie not having everything going on and the normal buzz you feel in the city, so I think everybody’s excited to see if August can be the new May.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 5, 2020.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press

auto racing

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

robbery
UPDATE: Shooting suspect arrested by Wetaskiwin/Camrose RCMP

Rimbey RCMP had responded to a complaint of an armed robbery at the Bluffton City General Store

Quality Inn & Suites in Rimbey. Photo Submitted
Rimbey hotel gets new lease on life

The Quality Inn & Suites in Rimbey is now open and taking bookings

Leanne Evans, Rimbey Neighbourhood Place Program Coordinator, accepts a donation of $5,000 from Kevin Maxwell manager of Field Support for Telus. (Photo Submitted)
Rimbey Neighbourhood Place making big changes behind the scenes

Rimbey Neighbourhood Place recently recieved a $5,000 donation from Telus

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw updates media on the Covid-19 situation in Edmonton on Friday March 20, 2020. nbsp;Alberta is reporting it's highest daily number of COVID-19 cases, with 364 new infections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta confirmed 323 COVID-19 cases Tuesday

Central zone active cases at 145

Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the chief medical officer of health, receive flu shot. Photo via Government of Alberta
COVID-19: One more death in central zone

Ponoka County on province’s watchlist

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives for an announcement at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020.	Kenney is isolating at home after one of his ministers tested positive for COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Alberta premier isolating after minister tests positive for COVID-19

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is isolating at home

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Alberta's provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Monday, July 6, 2020. Advisers are reportedly recommending Alberta's kindergarten to Grade 4 arts and social studies curriculum remove all references to residential schools because it's "too sad" for young children. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Advisers suggest Alberta students not learn about residential schools before Grade 4

Documents suggest children younger than Grade 4 are too emotionally vulnerable to learn about residential schools

File photo
RCMP’s response to online discussions about anti-racism demonstrations

Ponoka RCMP Staff Sgt.’s comments misattributed online

Shaelynn Decock and her dog Taco, who has been missing since Aug. 26. Photo Submitted
Sylvan Lake woman looking for closure for her stolen dog

Shaelynn Decock says it has been two months since she last saw her dog Taco

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a news conference Tuesday October 20, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau and his family decide against trick-or-treating this year due to COVID

Adhering to local health authorities, Trudeau urges Canadians to do their part in following those guidelines

Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday February 4, 2020 in Ottawa. The Alberta government is welcoming news that Ottawa has approved an expansion of the Nova Gas Transmission Ltd. gathering system in Alberta — while condemning federal delays that it says cost this summer’s construction season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Alberta welcomes federal approval of gas pipeline expansion while criticizing delay

The project is expected to create up to 2,920 direct jobs during construction, the federal release said

Most Read