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Canadian James Hinchcliffe again leaves Honda Indy Toronto disappointed

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TORONTO - James Hinchcliffe awoke from a 20-minute nap between Sunday's two races at Toronto's Honda Indy and thought for a moment he'd slept through his alarm. He said his nap briefly turned into a nightmare.

What he didn't know was that the nightmare was yet to come.

Race 2 of the IndyCar Series event was marred by several cautions, rain and contact with another driver, which would leave Hinchcliffe in 18th when the 80-minute race concluded.

The Oakville, Ont., native finished Race 1 Sunday morning in eighth place, matching his personal best at Toronto's Exhibition Place.

"At least we have two races because before that, it was the one race that was a nightmare," said Hinchcliffe. "I think here we were in for a strong result, maybe a top five, who knows, but it wasn't meant to be today."

The 27-year-old set his career-best eighth place finish in Race 1 of the 2013 event before finishing and 21st in Race 2.

Hinchcliffe finished 22nd in the 2012 event while posting a 14th place finish during his rookie season in 2011.

On Sunday, in Race 2, Hinchcliffe's problems began on Lap 12.

After Juan Pablo Montoya hit the tires in Turn 8. Hinchcliffe was unable to avoid the Colombian's No. 2 car, clipping it.

"The rain had just started, Juan Pablo was already in the tires there. I slowed down a lot because I saw him," explained Hinchcliffe. "(Sebastien) Bourdais had already started to go wide so I actually turned in a little early to try and give him room to get back on track.

"As soon as I hit the concrete, with a little bit of rain, the thing was just backwards before I knew it. Just so annoying and disappointing."

Once he was back on track, Hinchcliffe found himself four laps behind the leader.

"It was so tough not racing with those guys at the end," he said. "It's just such a bummer because I think we had a really strong car. To see how the carnage played out, if we had kept our nose clean, we would've been up there."

Hinchcliffe finished third at Exhibition Place in his first season in the Indy Lights developmental series, but it has been downhill since for him on the 11-turn, 2.8-kilometre track.

Earlier in the week, Hinchcliffe joked that it couldn't possibly get worse for him at the lone Canadian stop on the IndyCar schedule.

"It's one of those things, we're sitting up here, talking, saying 'what do we have to do to catch a break, here or anywhere this season?'" said Hinchcliffe. "The guys did a really good job on the car. I was having so much fun out there. Even in the wet, we would've been quick in the wet; we would've been quick in anything.

"The guys gave me a solid car, I'm just sorry we couldn't turn it into a result."

Hinchcliffe has gotten used to doing a plethora of appearances to promote the event leading up to race day at his home stop.

Hinchcliffe wasn't ready to blame the hectic week for his poor performances in Toronto. Still, he said he worked with Ryann Rigsby, Andretti Autosport's Director of Communications, to arrange an optimal schedule.

"Ryann here helped a lot in making sure that it was no more than a normal race weekend," Hinchcliffe said. "In a lot of ways, from a time commitment point of view, it felt very much like a normal race weekend.

"In years past, I think we've tried to cram in a little more than maybe we should've and this year we didn't."

Hinchcliffe struggled with tire strategy in Race 1, which saw him start and finish in the eighth spot while dropping from 11th in the point standings to 12th. He earned 36 points total from the two races.

Entering the weekend's event, Hinchcliffe had started 5-of-12 races in second spot, but hasn't found the podium once in 2014.

"I was probably more confident this week more than ever coming here just based on the results we've had in Detroit and Houston," he said. "You can't buy a break, it seems like right now, if you're driving a blue 27 car."

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