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Old 05-23-2016, 05:00 PM   #1
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Daily Craig; Hinch is a cinch

I have always enjoyed covering auto racing and especially the Indianapolis 500. I worked at Channel 6 In Indy for five years and learned enough about the sport to be dangerous in a group discussion. I have many stories on the days leading to the race and now this coming Sunday they'll do it for the 100th time. I often got caught up in qualifying and especially the run for the pole. Sitting inside Row 1 in the 11 Rows of three is always a big deal.

This time it's a big deal for many reasons. James Hinchcliffe is the pole sitter. He grabbed the top spot on the last run of the day yesterday. "Yep, the search for speed at the 2-half mile oval at 16th and Georgetown" had me glued to the tube. Hinch almost died at the track last May surviving a vicious crash in practice. One year later his sense of humor and ability to drive a road based rocket ship have peaked. Hinch and I met in 2007. I was taping a TV show in Houston and asked the Houston Grand Prix people for a driver to join us at Hooters in Spring. They offered up an Indy lights driver. A minor leaguer if you will. A Canadian named Hinchcliffe.

I said "any port in a storm." They said "you will like him." I did. He was great. He never once looked at me while we talked as he checked out every employee in the place. I knew then he had the focus a young man should have. Now he is married, has a craft beer named for him, and is the guy who replaced Danica Patrick in the Indy Racing League. I am naming him my "Sports Off-Center Driver of the Year." Sorry, Danica.

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