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Hinchcliffe Holds On For Second Victory

It became apparent early in the Edmonton 100 that front-row starters James Hinchcliffe and J.K. Vernay would again duel for the victory.

On Lap 9, pole sitter Hinchcliffe in the No. 2 TMR-Xtreme Coil Drilling held a 0.5214 of second advantage over Vernay’s No. 7 Lucas Oil/CJ/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car. The next closest competitor, Martin Plowman, was 4.69 seconds back.

Following a restart for the only full-course caution (stalled car of Carmen Jorda in Turn 9), they remained within a half-second of each other. Halfway through the 50-lap race, Hinchcliffe couldn’t shake Vernay, leading by 0.5966 of a second. Plowman was 5.9 seconds arrears.

The front-runners retained that comfortable distance on the 1.973-mile, 14-turn City Centre Airport circuit through the remaining laps, and Hinchcliffe celebrated Christmas in July with his second victory of the Firestone Indy Lights season. He also transformed the pole start at Long Beach into a trip to Victory Circle.

“To finally (win in his home country in open-wheel) feels extra special,” said Hinchcliffe, an Ontario native. “That cool down lap was a lot of fun, seeing all the fans in the stands. And thanks to all them for coming out because it's such a great event. It certainly wasn't easy. J.K. made me work for it.

“I think obviously the race was largely impacted by qualifying. And for us to sneak that pole out was a huge accomplishment. It led a lot to today. I have to thank the team, our boys a ton. From when we rolled off the trailer the car was quick.”

Vernay, who attempted to overtake Hinchcliffe in Turn 2 of Lap 44, closed to 0.2857 of a second on Lap 44 and crossed the finish line 1.2273 seconds behind. Hinchcliffe closed to 55 points of the championship leader heading to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Aug. 8.

“It was a great race with James,” said Vernay, who recorded his seventh podium finish in eight starts. “He had a great race, no mistakes, nothing for me to pass. I really tried to push hard and to take him, but he didn't give me a real chance.

“Canada has been good for me. One victory (Toronto), one second place. We have to continue like that for the next race and trying to push hard and to work with my engineer.”

Plowman finished third in the No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers/KEP Printing car for AFS Racing Andretti Autosport – his season high on a street/road circuit. He’s the only driver in the series to finish in the top 10 in all races and the only one to complete every lap.

"Starting third, I was hoping that we had something to challenge the leaders,” he said. “We were very strong in practice. For whatever reason, it wasn't quite there today. I seemed to be running a race all by myself. I was containing my teammate (Charlie Kimball) behind me, but I didn't have enough to keep up with the leaders. We'll take the points.”

Kimball was fourth in the No. 26 Levemir FlexPen entry for the second consecutive race.

Dan Clarke, runner-up at Toronto a week earlier, finished fifth in the No. 40 Wasteco Deans Knight Special for Walker Racing, and Sebastian Saavedra advanced two positions in the No. 29 William Rast/Bryan Herta Autosport car to sixth. Teammate Stefan Wilson finished seventh and Adrian Campos Jr. moved up one position to eighth in the No. 22 TMR-Xtreme Coil Drilling car.

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