9.19.2012 (Via Dean McNulty, Toronto Sun) – James Hinchcliffe didn’t get to celebrate in Victory Lane this IZOD IndyCar season, but he did make an impression with an eighth-place championship finish in his first full season in North America’s top open-wheel racing loop.
Now, as he takes a bit of a vacation away from the race track, Hinchcliffe wants to solidify his position with the No. 27 Andretti Autosport team.
That means negotiating an extension to his two-year contract before it expires at the end of the 2013 season.
“We are all set for next year — we have a two-year deal that we signed last season for both myself and GoDaddy,” he told the Toronto Sun on Tuesday. “The big thing for us now is to try to work on getting an extension and hopefully that relationship we have with Andretti Autosport can continue.
“Hopefully we can all agree to ink a deal that keeps us all together for many more years to come.”
This is all new territory for the 25-year-old native of Oakville, who has never been able to string together a multi-year deal with a race team prior to hooking up with Michael Andretti’s group at the end of the 2010 season.
“This is going to be the first time that I have ever been back with the same race team for two consecutive years,” Hinchcliffe said.
“I am really looking forward to not having to learn a whole new operation; a whole new way of doing things; forging a new relationship with a new engineer.”
He said that is a matter of great comfort to him that he can spend his off-season not worrying about what the immediate future will hold for him.
“Continuity is such and important part of our sport,” Hinchcliffe said. “You look at some of the most successful drivers in history and you will find they have been usually attached to one team and one group of people.
“I am looking forward to the opportunity to be back with the same guys and really being able to attack the new season from January onwards because we don have to go through that awkward courting phase, getting to know each other.”
While the 2011 season started with a huge measure of success — five straight top-six finishes that included a podium finish in Long Beach — the team hit some rough patches at Belle Isle and Toronto, where a freak accident and an engine failure resulted in DNFs.
“There were some hiccups along the road but I think there was a lot this year that we can be proud of and more than anything we established a good foundation to build on for 2013,” he said.
Hinchcliffe said he was also proud of the fact that his Andretti teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay was able to win the IndyCar championship on the last night of the season over Penske Racing’s Will Power.
He also knows being part of the championship-winning group means added pressure to repeat next season.
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