Photo Credit: Motorsport
IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe cannot catch a break. After leading 188 of the 248 laps of the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, including 157 of 177 laps last Saturday when the race was continued from back in June, Hinchcliffe finished in 2nd place by just 0.0080 seconds to Graham Rahal, the 5th closest finish in IndyCar history and the closest IndyCar finish ever at Texas Motor Speedway.
Now, the 43 points that Hinchcliffe earned for placing 2nd (40 points), leading the most laps (2 points), and leading a lap (1 point), have been reduced to 18 after his car failed post-race inspection and was docked 25 points, which is one more point than a driver gets if he/she finished in 8th place and one less point than a driver gets if he/she finished in 7th place. The penalty also includes a $20,000 to the team Hinchcliffe drives for, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
His car failed post-race inspection due to domed skid wear. It was mentioned throughout the race by the NBC Sports Network broadcasters that he may receive a penalty for this issue, since his car kept spewing sparks long after everyone else’s cars “wore in” to the track and stopped sparking. Hinchcliffe’s car was pretty much sparking throughout the entire race.
“In our post-race analysis this week it was determined the skid plate on the No. 5 entry was worn and in violation of our rules,” said Jay Frye, president of competition and operations for IndyCar in explaining why Hinchcliffe received such a large penalty.
Essentially, because of this penalty, Hinchcliffe got the same total of points as he would had he led the most laps of a race and finished in 15th place finished in 12th place without leading any laps at all.
This penalty gives Hinchcliffe’s spot in 8th place in this season’s Verizon IndyCar Series standings to Andretti Autosport’s Carlos Munoz. Hinchcliffe dropped from 392 points to 367 points, while Carlos Munoz was able to leap Hinchcliffe with his 382 points. Hinchcliffe was fortunate to have only lost one spot in the standings, since he is now just six points ahead of Chip Ganassi Racing’s Charlie Kimball, who sits in 10th place in the standings with a total of 361 points.