07/02/2013 06:53 EDT | Updated 09/01/2013 05:12 EDT

Canada's Hinchcliffe will bring "tempered expectations" into Honda Toronto Indy

TORONTO - James Hinchcliffe would love nothing more than to deliver a victory in front of his hometown crowd, but "some demons" at Toronto's IndyCar track continue to haunt the Canadian.

So the race car driver from Oakville, Ont., said Canadian fans might be have to be content with his three victories on other tracks this season.

Hinchcliffe will race at Honda Indy Toronto next week, but says he has a love-hate relationship with the track — "I love it, it hates me."

"I'm not going to hold my breath," Hinchcliffe said on a conference call Tuesday. "We've got there the last couple of years in IndyCar and been quick, but random things have taken us out of the races — contact, mechanicals, whatever. And it goes all the way back to my time in (Formula) Atlantic and Indy Lights there.

"So I hate to admit it, but I'm going in with very tempered expectations. I love coming home and getting to race in front of the home crowd is unlike anything else.

"Hopefully with the success we've had this year, we've given Canadian fans something to cheer for."

He's given them three things at least. The 26-year-old has a series-best three victories this season, claiming the first of his career in the season opener at St. Petersburg, Fla., in March.

"Coming into this season, there was a lot of talk about that first win," Hinchcliffe said. "And so for us as a team to knock that out of the way in the first race was a huge relief more than anything, and just allowed us to focus on doing the best job we could week in and week out and not worry about swinging for the fence, trying to go for the win."

Hinchcliffe, who's in his second season as a driver for Andretti Autosport, followed it up with wins in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and then at Iowa Speedway. He thoroughly dominated in his most recent victory in Iowa a little over a week ago, leading all but 24 of 250 laps. The victory put him back in the running for the overall IZOD IndyCar Series title, propelling him from ninth to fourth place.

"I know they say once you get the first one, they're easier after that, well I want them to try it and tell me just how easy it is, because it really isn't," Hinchcliffe said. "So to have now three wins in a series this competitive in a year as tight as we've seen it, it's incredible and it just speaks volumes. To have three wins in the GoDaddy car at this stage, it's nuts, we might not get another one for a year or two years, who knows?

"We're certainly keeping our heads down and trying to keep doing what we're doing because clearly some things are working."

Except in Toronto. Last year, on the track that snakes around Exhibition Place, engine problems forced the Canadian out of the race after just 27 laps.

Hinchcliffe finished 14th in 2011, but was racing in the top 10 after 33 laps when he and Toronto's Paul Tracy bumped tires and took themselves out of contention.

He'll try again to exorcise those demons in back-to-back Toronto races, July 13 and 14.

But first, he'll drive this Sunday at Pocono Raceway in the series' first race at the track since 1989.

The Pocono track is known as the "Tricky Triangle" — each of the three turns are modelled after turns at different tracks — and Hinchcliffe, the 2011 rookie of the year, said he could see why after testing there last week.

"I really had no appreciation for what this place is like, even though I've watched it a bunch on TV and all the rest of it," he said. "The track is so different end to end. . . it's difficult to set up for with very fast entry into Turn 1, very high banked, Turn 2 is very straightforward for us, but Turn 3 is long and flat. You have to make a lot of compromises on setup and ultimately I think the guy who gets that compromise nailed down the best is going to be in a strong position."

Hinchcliffe, who drives in red gloves as a tribute to the late Canadian race car driver Greg Moore, said the season is nothing like he had expected before he took the wheel for his first race. It's both better than expected, and perhaps a little worse. Inconsistency continues to bother him.

"It's tough for anyone to predict that we'd be three-time winners at the halfway point of the season, and then having said that, with three wins, we're still only fourth in points, so we definitely had some weekends that didn't go to plan," Hinchcliffe said. "It's really been this up and down season, and that's not what you predict or plan for coming into a year."