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James Hinchcliffe keeps it all in perspective after second IndyCar season

9.24.2012 (Via National Post) – There was no first race win, no triumphant fist pump in victory lane for James Hinchcliffe in his second season in IndyCar. The 25-year-old driver finished eighth in the drivers’ standings, 110 points back of champion and teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Maybe that will disappoint some ready to christen Hinchcliffe, from Oakville, Ont., Canada’s next great racer. But the man in the cockpit of Andretti Autosports’ No. 27 Team GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, Danica Patrick’s old car, did not sound upset earlier this week.

“It was a solid year. Solid,” said Hinchcliffe, who was rookie of the year in 2011, when he finished 12th.

There was a range of emotions for Hinchcliffe to experience over 15 races: the happiness of claiming his first podium finish, third on the streets of Long Beach, Calif., in April, and the third again on an oval in Milwaukee in June; the excitement of qualifying second for the 96th Indianapolis 500, and leading several opening laps before finishing sixth; and the the frustration of crashing in Detroit and Iowa, and suffering engine failure in Toronto.

But there was always the boyish pleasure of driving as fast he could. And Hinchcliffe says he also feels enlightened after watching Hunter-Reay, at 31, claim the championship.

“The previous mantra was this was a young man’s sport, but Ryan won a championship a decade into his career,” Hinchcliffe said. “Dario Franchitti won his first championship at 34. Will Power has won more races than anybody in the last decade, and still has not won a championship. I certainly understand the position I’m in and the people I’m racing against.”

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