I'd say somewhere between the feeling you get when that bonus bag of Doritos falls in the vending machine and when you reach into an old jacket pocket to find a long lost $20 bill. That's about the feeling I'm sure I'll get when my Blackberry buzzes signalling the arrival of a press release announcing the signing of James Hinchcliffe.
Sure, the first thing everybody wants to know when a driver is signed for their Freshman year in the IZOD IndyCar Series is the drivers credentials, and rightly so. Unfortunately in this day and age a drivers accomplishments are rarely the most important section on their resume. More often then not a drivers financial backing has everything to do with their position behind the wheel. Sure, if and when Hinch signs he'll probably be bringing some sponsorship, but his on track credentials are there as well. Through his two seasons of Firestone Indy Lights competition he ran a total of 28 races with two teams, Sam Schmidt Motorsports and Team Moore. With 3 wins (all in 2010), 4 poles, 16 top 5's (57%), and 22 top 10's(79%), the young Canadian finished 5th and 2nd respectively in each of the season ending points standings.
As skilled as Hinchcliffe is behind the wheel, I'm much more excited about his skills outside of the car, in an area that the IZOD IndyCar Series is desperately lacking. No one can argue with the breath taking oval races and the tightening competition on road and street courses have turned the once mind-numbingly boring rounds into must see anybody can win events. No doubt the entertainment factor is most definitely there, but the personalities - rather conveyance of those personalities - is not. That's where Hinch comes in.
If you follow the 24-year-old on Twitter, YouTube, or have seen any of his interviews you know exactly what I'm talking about. Hinch has the proverbial 'it'. Well spoken and incredibly entertaining, Hinchcliffe is exactly what the IZOD IndyCar Series needs. Someone for the fans to connect with outside of the car. Someone who labels his driving boots stop and go. Someone who uncovers a potential International Incident and remedies it. Someone who challenges paddock personalities to eat an Elkhart Lake Brat. Someone who uses a dog shower. Someone who bets their PR rep that they can't eat a 2lb Walmart deli sandwich.
With tremendous talents both in the car and behind the camera, IZOD IndyCar teams can't let Hinchcliffe slip through their fingers. 32 days and counting until St. Pete...