James Hinchcliffe’s anticipation of returning to the racetrack Sept. 28 in the No. 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda is growing with each passing day.
"I expect to be grinning like an idiot for the first few runs,” said Hinchcliffe, who is scheduled to participate in Round 2 of Verizon IndyCar Series team testing at Road America.
INDYCAR announced in August that the Road America Grand Prix on June 23-26 would be part of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule. The permanent road course in Elkhart Lake, Wis., which held its first race in 1955, hosted Indy car races from 1982-2007.
The offseason test session, which is not open to the public, will mark the first on-track activity for Hinchcliffe since he sustained a thigh injury May 18 in a practice crash at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The Toronto native underwent two surgeries and, following a recuperation period, has been incrementally rebuilding his physical fitness. He has been cleared to drive by the INDYCAR medical team.
"This is obviously the day that has been the goal and the motivation to get through the last four months," said Hinchcliffe, who won at New Orleans in five starts before the on-track incident. “And the fact that it is at Road America, one of my favorite road courses in the country, makes it that much better.”
In August 2005, Hinchcliffe won the Pro Mazda race at Road America. He also has competed at the track in the Atlantic Championship (2006-08) and last year co-drove a Daytona Prototype during the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship race weekend.
"I'm under no illusions that it won't be a massively difficult day,” added Hinchcliffe, who will enter his second season with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in 2016. “Going to a track we haven't run on top of the physical stress of getting back in (a car), but that's OK. I'm definitely ready for a little hard work."
Scheduled to participate, with car number in parentheses:
* Andretti Autosport: Marco Andretti (No. 27), Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 28)
* Dale Coyne Racing: Tristan Vautier (No. 19)
* KVSH Racing: Sebastien Bourdais (No. 11)
* Schmidt Peterson Motorsports: Hinchcliffe (No. 5)
Andretti and Hunter-Reay also are scheduled to test Oct. 5 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Oct. 26 at Barber Motorsports Park.
Bourdais won the last Indy car race at Road America from the pole on Aug. 12, 2007, on the way to earning his fourth consecutive Indy car championship. Dan Clarke was runner-up in the 53-lap race and 18-year-old Graham Rahal placed third.
On Sept. 22, 10 drivers turned laps on the 4.048-mile, 14-turn Road America course.
“It’s good to be back here, but quite strange coming back to such a large track,” said reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon, who last drove an Indy car at Road America in 2002. “The race itself should be pretty good and racing here is the heart of American road racing.”
For more information, visit www.roadamerica.com.
A look inside my office at @roadamerica for @IndyCar testing w/ @Team_Penske! #IndyCar2RA pic.twitter.com/0EY3UCsYJJ