Canadian Indy Car driver James Hinchcliffe nearly died last year when a crash sent a drive axle through his leg during an Indianapolis 500 practice lap.

But on May 22, on the same track, he returned to win the pole position, earning the right to start out front of the 33-cars to begin the legendary race May 29.

Hinchcliffe, noted for his prankster reputation, impressed with a four-lap run of 230.760 mph in the Fast Nine Shootout. The feat handed him the Verizon P1 Award and $100,000 prize.

Driving an Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, Hinchcliffe took the first pole of his Verizon IndyCar Series career. May 29 will mark his 79th race. He narrowly beat Josef Newgarden by a mere 0.0407 of a second over the 10-mile run.

For his part, Hinchcliffe indicated he is amazed with his comeback performance.

“I came into this month hoping we’d have a new story to talk about after what happened last year and I think we did it,” Hinchcliffe said in a pit lane interview with the Verizon IndyCar series website. “I can’t believe it. I’m honestly at a loss for words, which everyone knows is rare for me.”

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