Elkhart Lake, WI – June 25, 2016 – Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM) drivers Mikhail Aleshin and James Hinchcliffe will start the Kohler Grand Prix in 13th and 22nd place, respectively, on Sunday afternoon as the Verizon IndyCar Series makes its return to Road America.
Aleshin, who has never been to the four-mile, 14-turn circuit before, spent the three practice sessions learning the track. Despite being 19th on the combined practice sheets, he was able to finish seventh in his qualifying group and earn a 13th place spot on the starting grid.
“I think we had some good progress here from where we started,” said Aleshin. “It’s my first time at the track and I haven’t tested here like everyone else in the championship running. It’s a shame that we couldn’t get into the top six in this qualifying but we were pretty close. It’s not the best position to start with, but it’s okay. The race is long so anything can happen. We’re going to move forward, that’s for sure.”
Hinchcliffe encountered dashboard issues during his qualifying attempt, preventing him from seeing the shift-indicator lights. An on-track altercation with Rossi caused IndyCar to disallow the Canadian driver’s two fastest laps, putting him in 22nd place to start the race.
“It was an unfortunate day at the office,” said Hinchcliffe. “We had a small problem on blacks with the dash so I wasn’t able to shift properly. We were hoping to fix it for our run on red tires and we were only halfway through our first red lap when the session was called off for Josef [Newgarden]. It’s really too bad because the Arrow Electronics car was fast. I’m glad Josef is ok and now we have lots of new tires for the race tomorrow.”
Earlier in the day, SPM Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires drivers Santi Urrutia and Andre Negrao started their 20-lap race in second and fourth place, respectively.
Both drivers lost several spots at the start of the race. In turn five of the first lap, Urrutia was forced wide and shuffled back to ninth. He fought his way back up to fifth before receiving a five-second penalty, which ultimately cost him four spots at the end of the race.
Teammate Negrao was also pushed wide in turn five and lost several positions early in the race. He fought his way from the back of the pack to finish tenth.
While the SPM team is at Road America, owner Sam Schmidt will make the famed climb in the Arrow Electronics Semi-Autonomous Motorcar (SAM), a modified 2016 Corvette Z06 that allows Schmidt to steer, accelerate and brake using only his head. Schmidt will tackle the bottom half of the challenging, high-altitude 12.42 mile 156-turn course to Glen Cove after the 100 official racers and drivers, and then he will lead the parade of racecars, four-wheelers and motorbikes down the mountain. Schmidt’s co-pilot for the Hill Climb is nine-time Pikes Peak class winner and four-time King of the Mountain Robby Unser.
The SAM project is a collaborative venture between Arrow Electronics, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, the nonprofit organization Conquer Paralysis Now and Paravan GmbH, a world leader in innovative automobile conversions for drivers with severe disabilities. The objective of the SAM project is to enable disabled drivers to experience driving again by leveraging the power of technology. All of the software and technology that Arrow developed for the car is open to the developer and engineering communities, and it has promising broader applications for independent living. Just last month, Schmidt reached a top speed of 152 mph in the SAM car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway between qualifying laps for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.
On Sunday, the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires Series will complete the second race of the double-header weekend at 9:45 a.m. ET. In the afternoon, the Verizon IndyCar Series headlines the weekend with the Kohler Grand Prix. The green flag for 50 laps of competition will take place at 1:15 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network.