INDIANAPOLIS – James Hinchcliffe is back after the Andretti Autosport driver passed the closed concussion test given to him by the InydCar Medical Staff on Thursday which means the Dallara/Honda driver will be in the car for Fast Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Hinchcliffe was suited up and ready to go at the end of practice but did not make it onto the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway in time to take a practice lap.
“We wanted to be back for qualifying so I did everything the doctor said and more and that was enough,” Hinchcliffe said. “We’re ready to hit Fast Friday.
“By Monday, I was feeling myself. I felt 100 percent. We knew we needed to take time and make sure. I got permission on Tuesday to get back in the gym and Wednesday just went lightly to make sure my head was fine with the heart rate coming up and yesterday, no sorry, this morning – I swear my memory is fine – I got back in the gym and working a little harder and got that heart rate threshold up to where it would be in the car and everything was great. I did some reaction training and I was on the upper end of average of the previous runs and then came here for the ImPACT Test. That was the toughest thing knowing it kind of make or break and seeing everyone driving. It was the first time I’d been here for any on-track activity and it was tough to watch but it’s all come good. Looking forward to getting out there.”
Not only was Hinchcliffe back in action but so was three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, who had the fastest lap in Thursday’s practice session at 227.166 mph in a Dallara/Chevrolet.
“We don’t know what will happen tomorrow; they are calling for rain but right now we are looking good,” said the Team Penske driver. “Friday we will sit down with Tim Cindric and Roger Penske so that we understand more about this qualifying format. For me, it’s understanding what the car is doing. Friday we go to bigger boost so you will see some big numbers come up on speeds.
“Any time you are getting ready to qualify for Indianapolis it’s always very stressful. There are two races – qualifying and the race. Now, we have to go for Saturday and for Sunday. That will be nerve-wracking. To have to do two days in a row with four fast laps each day I don’t think a lot of us are going to have much sleep.”