The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - RYAN MCKENNA

James Hinch­cliffe wants noth­ing more than to win his home­town race.

And even af­ter a third-place fin­ish last year, the Cana­dian IndyCar driver said there are still changes to be made to his car be­fore Sun­day’s Honda Indy Toronto.

“We didn’t win the race, so you can al­ways make it bet­ter,” Hinch­cliffe said. “That’s what we’ve tried to do.

“But if we’ve gone in the wrong di­rec­tion, which is easy to do when the field is this com­pet­i­tive, we can fall back on that other set up that was re­li­able from last year.”

It’s been 14 years since a Cana­dian — Toronto na­tive Paul Tracy — cap­tured the check­ered flag on the streets sur­round­ing Ex­hi­bi­tion Place. Tracy also won the event in 1993.

Last year’s podium fin­ish was Hinch­cliffe’s best re­sult in Toronto. The Oakville, Ont., na­tive said in an in­ter­view ear­lier this year that plac­ing third along with claim­ing the pole po­si­tion at the 2016 In­di­anapo­lis 500 were dream come true mo­ments.

Hinch­cliffe won the Grand Prix of Long Beach in April and fin­ished third in the first of two races at the Detroit Grand Prix in June. He en­ters this week­end 12th in the driver stand­ings.

De­spite his street course win in Long Beach, the 30-year-old doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily be­lieve that it will give him an ad­van­tage in Toronto.

“It’s cer­tainly a good con­fi­dence booster and know­ing that we can win on street cir­cuits is a big thing for the team and a big morale boost,” Hinch­cliffe said.

“Toronto is not Long Beach, un­for­tu­nately.”

Hinch­cliffe’s No. 5 car for Schmidt Peter­son Mo­tor­sports was 16th af­ter the sec­ond prac­tice ses­sion on Fri­day.

He­lio Cas­tron­eves, who ended a three-year win drought with a vic­tory at last week­end’s Iowa Corn 300, was fastest af­ter the first prac­tice while Si­mond Pa­ge­naud was first af­ter the sec­ond prac­tice.

Pa­ge­naud was last sea­son’s Ver­i­zon IndyCar Se­ries cham­pion and is search­ing for his sec­ond vic­tory of the sea­son af­ter win­ning in Phoenix in April.

The fi­nal prac­tice ses­sion takes place Satur­day morn­ing be­fore qual­i­fy­ing in the after­noon.

Last week­end’s race in Iowa, where Hinch­cliffe fin­ished 10th, was the 100th of his ca­reer, a mile­stone which he said is “pretty crazy to think about.”

Even in his sev­enth IndyCar sea­son, Hinch­cliffe is still in­trigued at the pos­si­bil­ity of try­ing out dif­fer­ent forms of rac­ing, in­clud­ing NASCAR. He al­luded to NASCAR’s early-Au­gust race at Watkins Glen In­ter­na­tional in New York as a fu­ture op­tion.

“If it’s got four wheels and an en­gine, I’ll give it a whirl,” Hinch­cliffe said.

“I’ve al­ways had some kind of in­ter­est in dif­fer­ent forms of rac­ing, and to get into a stock car, which I haven’t done yet, at a road course seems like a log­i­cal first step.

“It’s ob­vi­ously not in the cards for this sea­son but it’s some­thing that we’re ac­tively try­ing to make hap­pen in the fu­ture.”

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