Schmidt Peterson Motorsport’s driver James Hinchcliffe says it is “kind of shocking” that it took him 12 IndyCar races to secure a podium in 2019, after finishing third at Iowa.
The 2018 Iowa winner started fifth and remained in contention throughout the race and prevailed in a battle with Dale Coyne Racing’s Santino Ferrucci, pictured below, to take the final restart in third.
Simon Pagenaud was also picked off by Hinchcliffe, the Penske driver finishing fourth behind the SPM driver.
But Hinchcliffe had to settle for third after the new tyre advantage of Scott Dixon’s Chip Ganassi Racing-run machine told.
“For the #5 guys, it’s been a tough year,” said Hinchcliffe. “A lot of rough luck on Sundays. We’re happy to be back on the podium here in Iowa, where we’ve had success before. Hopefully, we can carry this momentum into Mid-Ohio.
“It’s kind of shocking actually that it’s the first podium of the year. It just kind of sums up our year. We’ve had good racecars on Sundays, had bad luck. A mistake or two of our own.
“We’ve been there or thereabouts. Fighting for the odd win, fighting for a couple of podiums, just had unlucky breaks. To kind of have a clean evening, not have anything work against us, it’s nice to be back up here.
“I think that we’ve had some races we probably should have been on the podium.
“That’s racing. We’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing as a team and hopefully see a few more podiums before the end of the season.”
Hinchcliffe added he did not believe he could have matched race winner Josef Newgarden at Iowa.
“I think kind of best of the rest after Josef is probably where we were,” said Hinchcliffe. “That first stint, the #5 car was a little off.
“We were just kind of learning, feeling out the track, seeing what the set-up really was like.
“Big credit to the guys. Every time we came into the pits, we made it a little bit better. Adjusting tyre pressures, wing, whatever.
“Working with the tools in the car, every stint we took a step forward. We were picking guys off slowly. Fell back to seventh.
“To get Simon on that last restart, running second, [it’s] a shame Seb[astien Bourdais] was involved. He definitely stopped us from getting after Josef.
“Obviously, Scott, with the brilliant call with tyres, came up and got around us.
“But we were starting to come back and a couple more laps, it would have been a good little battle.”