Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

James Hinchcliffe earns Indianapolis 500 pole year after near-fatal crash

James Hinchcliffe clinches the pole on the final lap of his run, which averages 230.760 mph.

James Hinchcliffe clinches the pole on the final lap of his run, which averages 230.760 mph.

INDIANAPOLIS — James Hinchcliffe watched the Indianapolis 500 last year from his hospital bed. He had nearly died from injuries six days earlier in a practice crash at famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Now he'll start the 100th running of "The Greatest Spectacle In Racing" from the pole.

The Canadian, who spent the past year fighting back from the life-threatening leg injury, completed a remarkable comeback Sunday by posting a four-lap qualifying average of 230.760 mph on the final run of the day to barely edge American Josef Newgarden for the pole.

"I get it. (The accident) was a big deal," Hinchcliffe said after capturing the pole by the fourth-closest margin (0.06 mph) in race history. "You're coming back to this place and you want to focus on the here and now and not remember or focus on hitting the wall at 125 Gs. … Hopefully, this (the pole) is the topic of conversation for the next week."

The pole shootout was so close that Ryan Hunter-Reay, who will start third, thought he had passed Newgarden on the second-to-last attempt when he was clocked at 230.648 mph around the 21/2-mile track.

Newgarden and Hunter-Reay, the 2014 race champ and one of Hinchcliffe's former teammates with Andretti Autosport, both congratulated the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver. Hinchcliffe, the 2013 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg winner and one of the sport's most popular drivers, missed the final 11 races last season after a broken suspension part punctured his left leg right and nearly caused him to bleed out the day after Indy 500 qualifying.

"I don't think anyone can describe nearly losing your life at a track, then going back there to go 240 mph into a corner," Hunter-Reay said.

Newgarden, who went fourth in the nine-driver pole shootout, saw his average of 230.700 mph withstand four challengers before Hinchcliffe, who went last, surpassed him.

"It was a tough pill to swallow," Newgarden said. "It was difficult waiting. I was trying to remind myself it's not about (the pole). I wanted to win the pole so bad, it would have been amazing,"

Alex Tagliani spun coming out of Turn 4 on his warmup lap and hit the attenuator at the pit road entrance. His car spun 51/2 times but he was quickly checked, released and cleared to drive by the infield medical center. He will be the first driver since 1924 to make the 500 grid without an official qualifying speed.

James Hinchcliffe earns Indianapolis 500 pole year after near-fatal crash 05/22/16 [Last modified: Sunday, May 22, 2016 9:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Dirk Koetter to Bucs: Take your complaints to someone who can help

    Bucs

    TAMPA — It was just another day of aching bellies at One Save Face.

    Dirk Koetter: “All of our issues are self-inflicted right now.”
  2. Bucs journal: Few complaints about Jameis Winston's play

    Bucs

    TAMPA — It wasn't enough to pull out a win Sunday at Buffalo, but a week removed from a shoulder sprain, Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston threw for 384 yards and three touchdowns against the NFL's No. 2 pass defense.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Brent Grimes (24) signs autographs for fans before an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017.
  3. Lightning's Jon Cooper uses unusual tactic to create mismatches

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Tyler Johnson is about to swing his left leg over the boards for his next shift alongside linemate Alex Killorn and … who else?

    Stamkos? Kucherov? Point?

    Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper argues the called as his team gets a faceoff violation, leading to penalty and #Caps PP goal, during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (10/09/17).DIRK SHADD   |   Times
  4. A buzz-worthy look at the Astros-Dodgers World Series matchup

    The Heater

    Houston Astros' Yuli Gurriel is congratulated by Jose Altuve after scoring during the fifth inning of Game 7 of baseball's American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) TXMG170
  5. Florida, FSU try to ignore death threats, angry fans

    College

    GAINESVILLE — Frustration over uncharacteristically down seasons at Florida and Florida State has started to spill over from message boards and start crossing real-world lines.

    Fans watch the Florida Gators game against Texas A&M, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, in Gainesville, Fla. At the half, Florida was up 10 to 3.