Fearless Hinchcliffe grabs 100th Indy 500 pole

Sun May 22, 2016 7:45pm EDT
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(Reuters) - Canada's James Hinchcliffe turned in a fearless performance on Sunday when he grabbed pole for the Indianapolis 500, one year after being critically injured in a crash during practice at the famed Brickyard.

Hinchcliffe will be joined on the front row for next Sunday's centennial showcase by two Americans, Josef Newgarden and 2014 Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay.

"The Arrow Electronics car was an absolute smoke show out there, it was right on the edge," Hinchcliffe told trackside reporters. "Now we've got the best seat in the house for the start of the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500."

Two days of qualifying at the sprawling Indianapolis Motor Speedway reached a pulsating climax when Hinchcliffe, the last car onto the track, stormed around the 2.5 mile (4.0 kilometer) oval in a four-lap average speed of 230.760 mph (371 kph) triggering wild celebrations in the Schmidt Peterson Motorsport's pit.

It was far different scene a year ago when Hinchcliffe was rushed to hospital fighting for his life instead of battling for pole following a spectacular crash that ended his IndyCar season.

The Canadian lost control entering turn three and careened into the wall. A piece of the car's suspension pierced his left thigh and he lost massive amounts of blood.

"I came into this month really hoping we would have a new story to talk about after what happened last year and I think we did it. I can't believe it," a beaming Hinchcliffe told trackside reporters.

"A year ago (my parents) came here for a very different reason. They were out of the country when I had my accident and I can't imagine what that plane trip must have been like for them.

"Mom moved in on May 1. She said she wasn't missing a single lap just in case I tried to kill myself again and luckily that wasn't the case."   Continued...

May 22, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Verizon Indy Car driver James Hinchcliffe accepts the pole award after winning the pole as the fastest qualifier during qualifications for the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports