New­gar­den looks for ‘sweet’ re­venge

Win­ning Honda Indy would be pay­back against Hinch­cliffe on his home track

The Niagara Falls Review - - Sports - MIKE SHULMAN

TORONTO — Last year, Josef New­gar­den teased lo­cal prod­uct James Hinch­cliffe about de­feat­ing him in his home­town race.

This time, he’s not kid­ding around.

The de­fend­ing Honda Indy cham­pion wants to ex­act re­venge on the Oakville na­tive for his come-from-be­hind vic­tory at the Iowa Corn 300 last week­end.

“I think it would feel quite sweet to beat Hinch in Toronto,” New­gar­den said this week.

“I think I was just say­ing (it) to say it last year, jok­ing around with him.

“Now, I truly mean it — I ac­tu­ally want to beat him.”

New­gar­den, who sits sec­ond in the IndyCar points stand­ings be­hind Scott Dixon, led for 229 of the 300 laps be­fore Hinch­cliffe cap­i­tal­ized on the Amer­i­can get­ting stuck in lapped traf­fic at the Iowa Speed­way and took the lead. New­gar­den fin­ished fourth.

Hinch­cliffe ad­mit­ted he didn’t ex­pect to pass New­gar­den, who also won in Iowa two years ago.

“I hon­estly, the whole race, was just driv­ing around think­ing, ‘What would Josef New­gar­den do?’” he said with a laugh, while an­swer­ing a ques­tion from his Amer­i­can coun­ter­part at a news con­fer­ence this week.

“He swept the field there in 2016.

“He was do­ing the same for most of the race in 2018. If I was Josef, how would I ap­proach the rest of this race? I just re­ally brought my in­ner Joseph out.”

But for now, New­gar­den has brag­ging rights over Hinch­cliffe in Toronto, where he has won twice (2017 and 2015).

Hinch­cliffe’s best re­sults have been the past two years with back-to-back third-place fin­ishes.

New­gar­den put in the sev­enth fastest time at 59.63 sec­onds dur­ing prac­tice on Fri­day.

Dixon, of New Zealand, notched the top lap time of 59.07. Takuma Sato of Japan had the sec­ond-best time of 59.51. Amer­i­can Marco An­dretti fin­ished third at 59.52.

Hinch­cliffe had the best re­sult among Cana­di­ans with the 10thbest time of 59.81.

Robert Wick­ens, of Guelph, put

‘‘ For us to get three wins here would be un­be­liev­able. JOSEF NEW­GAR­DEN De­fend­ing cham­pion

in a top run of 59.98 for 13th, and Zachary Cla­man De Melo, of Mon­treal, clocked in at 101.18 to fin­ish 23rd and last.

New­gar­den said it could be hard to ad­just to IndyCar’s new aero kits — which he said have 25 per cent less grip — on some of the con­crete patches fea­tured on Toronto’s street track.

“I think it’s go­ing to be a real chal­lenge to find some­thing that stays un­der­neath you all day and find some­thing that works on this track,” he said, adding there should be many op­por­tu­ni­ties for pass­ing as driv­ers strug­gle with tire degra­da­tion.

“It’s a real engi­neer­ing chal­lenge in ad­di­tion to the driv­ing por­tion of it.”

But if New­gar­den can pull it off, he can join some elite com­pany. Three-time win­ners in Toronto in­clude Aus­tralia’s Will Power, Scot­land’s Dario Fran­chitti and fel­low Amer­i­can Michael An­dretti, who holds the record for the most vic­to­ries at seven.

“For us to get three wins here would be un­be­liev­able,” said New­gar­den, not­ing he com­pleted the same feat at the Grand Prix of Alabama ear­lier this year.

“Just be­cause it is so dif­fi­cult to win here. You can have the best cars, it’s a lit­tle like (the In­di­anapo­lis 500) in some ways, where you can get caught out quite eas­ily.

“Every­thing’s got to line up, and if does, it feels pretty sweet.”

FRANK GUNN THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Scott Dixon passes in front of Princes' Gate dur­ing the first prac­tice ses­sion for the Toronto Indy in Toronto on Fri­day.

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