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Hinchcliffe Discusses His Recovery Process

Recovering from a heavy crash can be a draining process for any driver, and for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ James Hinchcliffe, the impact he suffered in May has led to the hardest series of workouts in his IndyCar career.

The cheerful Canadian has undergone intensive fitness therapy to ready himself for a busy 2016 in the No. 5 ARROW Electronics Honda, and unlike previous seasons, he’s needed to rebuild the muscle mass and endurance that was lost during months of inactivity. At this time last year, Hinch was in the gym maintaining his form, while today, he’s busy bulking back up to attack the new season.

“Luckily it’s something I’ve done before to know where I need to be from a physical standpoint, and I’ve been lucky to be working with Jim Leo from PitFit to return to that place,” Hinchcliffe said. “I really wasn’t able to much of anything for about three months, so our routine has been about getting me back to the size and strength I need to handle an IndyCar and that’s really gone quite well.”

Working with Leo outside the car has been crucial for Hinchcliffe’s physical restoration, and he’s also been able to include a few days of the most intensive—and expensive—physical training an IndyCar driver can ask for.

“I’ve also been super-fortunate to get back in the car for four days of testing since the end of the season, and one of them, at the end of the test day, included a full race simulation,” he said. “You go and get yourself nice and tired after a full day of testing, and then go do a full race distance, complete with four pit stops, refueling, and the whole deal you’d normally do in a race, and if it all goes according to plan, it shows you’re headed in the right direction with your training. It kicked my butt, but it was good to do.”

Hinchcliffe isn’t done with recovery, but says he’s getting closer to the finish line.

“It will be an ongoing thing until the start of the season,” he added. “Jim and I have set goals to hit leading into St. Pete, and we’re on target--maybe even ahead in some areas. The two main areas to work on is getting your neck muscles where they need to be, and grip strength on the steering wheel. Those things came back pretty quick, and muscle memory is a big thing. Getting back that level is harder than actually losing it, but we’re getting closer every day.”

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