Indianapolis, IN – May 29, 2016 – Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver James Hinchcliffe earned a hard-fought, seventh-place finish in the No. 5 Arrow Electronics car for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Hinchcliffe, who started from the pole position, spent the first three-quarters of the race battling for the lead. A fuel issue on the first pit stop shuffled him back several positions, but was followed up by two near-perfect stops that helped him regain the lead.
Ultimately, fuel strategy would be the difference maker, when the Canadian fan favorite was forced to splash-and-go with only four laps remaining.
“I have to give everybody on the Arrow crew a ton of credit for the effort the entire month,” said Hinchcliffe. “Coming in third at the GP of Indy, qualifying on the pole and the race here, it was a solid effort.
“We were super strong the first half and definitely had one of the cars to beat. It was really just track temperatures that caught us out there. We started losing grip as the temperatures came up late in the afternoon and the last two stints were a real struggle when we tried to make the tires last. Well, more than a stint because we came in for that splash of fuel at the end.
“A couple guys out there took a punt on fuel – congrats to Alex and great to see Honda back on top. Realistically, I think we had a third- or fourth-place effort today, which is nothing to turn your nose up at.”
Teammate Mikhail Aleshin started seventh and ran as high as fifth, but spun on lap 114 in turn one and made contact with the wall. His No. 7 DOOM and SMP Racing crew worked hard to get the car back out on track long enough to gain one more position back. The Russian driver finished 27th.
“The DOOM and SMP Racing car was pretty good through all the stints,” said Aleshin. “We were up front, but then something went wrong in turn one and I’m not sure what it was. I just lost control of the rear of the car and I couldn’t do anything. It just went suddenly.
“After we repaired the car, it still didn’t seem fine. I think we just need to go back, check everything and go to Detroit. The guys did an amazing job all month and I thank them a lot. Also, I think the pit competition shows how competitive this team is. We were good during the tests, practices and qualifying. We had a little bit but just not enough this time.”
Oriol Servia, driver of SPM’s third entry in the No. 77 Lucas Oil Jahia car, started tenth and finished 12th. The Spanish driver recapped his race by saying, “At the beginning, a couple things happened. The car was not really as great as I wanted and I think the pressure was having an effect on me. Then when we made the first stop, I actually jumped the pit speed limit, which was my fault, and that’s why we got the penalty that sent us to the back. But that kind of woke me up, plus we had adjusted the pressures so the car was great.
“It was a rocket ship from there, but it was just hard to get to the front. We didn’t take the gamble on fuel at the end, but still we would’ve been fourth. We had a bit of miscommunication in the pits and we put too much fuel in, so we went back to twelfth place. If that wouldn’t have happened, we would’ve been legitimately fourth place so it’s a little sad. At the end of the day, the car was great, the team effort was great and only one can win. Today, it wasn’t us.”
In just one week, the Verizon IndyCar Series heads north for the seventh and eighth races of the 2016 season. The Chevrolet Dual in Detroit double-header weekend will feature two full-points, 70-lap races on consecutive days. The first race will take place on Saturday, June 4 at 3:50 p.m. ET and the second on Sunday, June 5 at 3:50 p.m. Both will be broadcast live on ABC and tickets are available online at www.DetroitGP.com.