James Hinchcliffe admitted he was devastated to have missed out on a potential podium finish at Mid-Ohio having led the race for more than 20 laps.
The Newman/Haas IndyCar rookie had an up and down race having lost away his seventh-place grid slot with a wild ride across the grass on lap one after being forced wide by Alex Tagliani. But his team responded with an alternate strategy that put in the lead of the race after the first full-course caution. The Canadian then maintained the lead with composure while under pressure from Ganassi drivers Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti until pitting.
Hinchcliffe gave up the lead to change to another set of black-walled hard Firestone tires just as the race went under caution for a second time, and when it came back to green he spun out of fifth position on the cold rubber. He rejoined to finish 20th.
"We started with our highest grid place and then by the end of lap one we are down at the tail of the field, then we caught that lucky yellow and the team did a great job to get us there – and we showed that we had pace," Hinchcliffe told Versus. "They were on the radio to me saying: 'You have got to save fuel but you have got to keep Scott and Dario behind you'. So I said all right, save fuel but keep five championships behind you. No problem!
"We came in for that pit stop right before the second yellow and I wanted blacks because the car had run so well on that last stint on blacks but we knew all along that they wouldn't come up to temperature quite as quick. So as soon as that yellow came out and pretty much everyone around me except [Ryan] Hunter-Reay was on reds [soft tires], I knew I was going to be in trouble and we lost a couple of spots.
"Ultimately, I was just trying to keep up and I lost it at the Keyhole – a pretty devastating day, to be honest."
Hinchcliffe said that while it was tough to accept his error he intended to learn from it and move forward.
"In warm-up this morning we found that the rear black tires took a long time to come in and I knew that, but I guess that's all part of being a rookie," he said. "One thing you can be sure of is that rookies will make mistakes, and unfortunately I made a big one today."
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