Fort Worth, TX – June 10, 2016 – Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM) drivers James Hinchcliffe and Mikhail Aleshin qualified tenth and sixteenth, respectively, for Saturday’s Firestone 600 race at Texas Motor Speedway.
The Verizon IndyCar Series had only one practice session before qualifying and both SPM drivers struggled to maximize setup changes before the end of the 75-minute session.
By the time qualifying started and track temperatures were in excess of 130 degrees, Hinchcliffe felt better about his No. 5 Arrow Electronics car. His two-lap average of 212.919mph put him tenth on the starting grid.
“I think the race is going to be similar to what we’ve seen here the last couple of years,” said Hinchcliffe. “Firestone put together a package that falls off to make it a little more challenging for us, make the show a little bit better, stay away from pack racing, keep it safe. The onus is really on us as drivers and teams to make the setup as easy on tires as we can be. We need to be patient and not just go flat out at the drop of the green or the start of a stint.
“I think it’s going to be a thinking-man’s race tomorrow night. Strategy comes down to playing it as it unfolds. You can make a plan A, B, C, D and they’re all out the window by lap one, turn one. We just need to focus on taking care of the car and tires. Downforce level is going to be a key decision for sure.
“Unfortunately, we never really get to run in the track temperatures that we’re going to be racing at. Even tonight’s session is a little early for us, but it’s the same for everyone so we just have to be smart about it and hopefully the Arrow car is going to be up front.”
Aleshin’s two-lap qualifing average of 214.469 gave him a 16th place starting spot for Saturday’s 248-lap race.
“I think it’s a great racetrack and it’s one of my favorites,” said Aleshin. “That’s because there’s not only one line, there are two lines here at least, maybe three. Maybe four if you’re Russian. I’m going to use everything I can to be at the top because I think the team is competitive. We didn’t hit any major mistakes with the car setup or from my side so I think at the moment, that’s probably a good place to start with. I’m pretty happy that the car was much better than it was in the first session. The SMP Racing and DOOM car is going to be solid in the race, as always, and we’ll just go from here.”
The Firestone 600 will take place on Saturday, June 11 under the lights at Texas Motor Speedway. Fans can catch all the action live on NBC Sports Network from 8-11 p.m. ET and tickets are available at TexasMotorSpeedway.com.