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Hinchcliffe vents about doubleheaders, but is he right?

Jul 18, 2013, 12:00 PM EDT

James Hinchcliffe AP

Perhaps it was just venting in the face of an emotional, challenging weekend in front of his home fans. Or perhaps, he had a point.

Either way, James Hinchcliffe was not a happy camper in the aftermath of this weekend’s Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader weekend. Scott Dixon swept the weekend and Hinchcliffe had one eighth place, and a second race to forget after needing to fix a stuck throttle at the outset.

“I don’t think anybody likes them,” he told Wheels.ca after the race. “You have to have double-headers at all of them or none of them. I’ve said that since they announced these things. It’s not a fair way to do it.

“Nobody in the series will ever warm up to these,” he added. They’re too hard on the drivers, they’re too hard on the teams. You get so little practice, it’s so tough to get the car set up right.”

Hinchcliffe followed that line of thinking with a line that “it’s not about us,” and that if the fans want to see it and buy more tickets, then they need to try to way to make it work.

He’s not alone in questioning the doubleheader format. Earlier this year, in an exclusive interview with MotorSportsTalk, racing legend Mario Andretti said he personally wasn’t a fan of doubleheaders heading into Detroit.

“You want to have just one main event,” he told me.

Judging by the attendance, and particularly the increased Saturday attendances at both Detroit and Toronto, the promoters have to be happy with the financial increases. But what are some ways forward for IndyCar to modify or enhance the doubleheader weekend format?

More importantly, is Hinchcliffe right? Or was it just sour grapes because his Andretti Autosport, which has been on target the rest of 2013, missed the setup this weekend? Sound off in the comments.

  1. Keith Collantine - Jul 18, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    His struggles in Toronto notwithstanding, I do think there’s something to what he’s saying.

    My concern about the way the double headers have been set up this year is that it tips the balance of the championship strongly towards street courses. Without it, the blend of road, street and oval would be more even.

    I also sympathise with Andretti’s point of view a bit. But if this kind of event is increasing ticket sales and getting more people to watch the racing, then it’s hard to argue with that.

  2. ajfoster88 - Jul 18, 2013 at 12:11 PM

    I agree that the racing is tough on the teams and drivers, but I will say the following:

    When the doubleheaders were announced, a friend and I decided we HAD to go to one of them. At first we thought Detroit, but it was the weekend after Indy, a race we’d both be going to, and couldn’t afford two race weekends back to back. We decided on Toronto, since neither of us had ever been to Canada, so we’d be killing two birds with one stone. Without the allure of the doubleheader, I DEFINITELY would not have flown from Indy to Toronto last week.

  3. adamtw1010 - Jul 18, 2013 at 12:44 PM

    I have loved the doubleheader format. Quite frankly, I would like to see it applied to NASCAR for some races. For example, Texas-let’s run the Nationwide race Friday night, then run a 300 mile Sprint Cup race on Saturday afternoon & a 300 mile Sprint Cup race on Sunday? I think it’s great and a really good way to attract fans.

  4. indycarseries500 - Jul 18, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    Sporting-wise he’s right but the customer is always right and the fans seem to love them.

  5. midtec2005 - Jul 19, 2013 at 12:42 AM

    I definitely can see where Hinch is coming from… but like even he said, the series has to please the paying customer. I enjoyed the hell out of both races, and the second race turns into a true endurance event because of the physical nature of a street course. I think it’s fun.

  6. snoopyo - Jul 23, 2013 at 1:33 AM

    If hinch would have won a race I bet he would feel different but he brings up a good point. I like the double headers especially for the 2nd race to see who has the endurance to last through the final race. I like the idea I could see it being tough for the drivers but lets get them into the gym to build up for these races, We need more races in Canada they have great cities and the potential of a new oval being built will do well for the sport.

  7. purplesectornet - Jul 23, 2013 at 1:13 PM

    it makes no sense…you don’t dilute a product you are struggling to sell…the whole stick and ball stuff to racing makes no sense…that includes the all star races, the chase and all of that…

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