Indianapolis, IN – February 28, 2016 – The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM) Verizon IndyCar Series and Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires teams participated in the “Test in the West” at Phoenix International Raceway last Thursday through Saturday.
The Indy Lights team, consisting of RC Enerson, Santiago Urrutia, Andre Negrao and Heamin Choi, finished first, second, third and tenth on the combined practice charts. Enerson lead with a top speed of 168.214, Urrutia was in second with 167.341, followed by Negrao with 167.139. Choi was P10 with a 164.879.
The Verizon IndyCar Series drivers hit the track Friday and Saturday. James Hinchcliffe piloted the No. 5 ARROW Electronics car and finished with a top speed of 188.085 on the combined practice charts for four sessions.
“We’ve had a solid couple of days here at Phoenix,” said Hinchcliffe. “Obviously we’re coming here for the first time with everybody and getting our first chance to run around in race trim with other cars on track. Everybody is learning lots – about the new kit, the track and how to race here. I think we made some really good progress in the No. 5 ARROW Electronics Honda Dallara Firestone, so hopefully we can build off that and carry into a good race weekend.
“It’s definitely a tough, physical little track. It’s challenging from a setup point of view because the two ends are so different but we like a challenge, that’s why we go racing. If it was easy, everybody would do it.”
Colombian driver Gabby Chaves, filling in for contracted SPM driver Mikhail Aleshin, was close behind Hinchcliffe with a 188.070.
“I’m really pleased with all the work that was accomplished,” said Chaves. “We went through a lot of test items and we accomplished what we wanted to. We have a general direction that the team figured out they’d like to follow for when they come back for the race weekend.
“We worked a lot on the racecar the second day, that was the primary focus: getting the car fast behind other cars and being able to do overtakes. I think we’re pretty happy with the speed performance of our qualifying trim. We know where we can get more speed out of the car and I think if we take those steps, we can definitely be quicker than any of the other Hondas out there today. Overall, I’m just pleased with all the work we did.”
Chaves will again fill in for Aleshin at the Verizon IndyCar Series test on Wednesday at Sebring International Raceway. The team will then return to the SPM shop to prepare the cars for the IndyCar and Indy Lights season openers next week. The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will take place on Sunday, March 13 at 12:30 p.m. ET. The race will be broadcast live on ABC.