Elkhart Lake, WI – June 26, 2016 – Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM) drivers Santiago Urrutia and Andre Negrao took the checkered flag in first and second place on Sunday for the second Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires race at Road America.
Urrutia started the 20-lap race in second place. The 19-year-old, Uruguayan driver lost several spots at the start in wet track conditions but set the fastest race lap on lap five. He was running in fourth place when a full-course caution flag came out near the end of the race. Teammate Negrao, who started in fourth, grabbed the lead on the restart but Urrutia made a pass immediately to take over the top spot, which he would hold onto until the checkered flag.
“I had big emotions when I passed the finish line,” said Urrutia. “Yesterday was a tough race, we lost a lot of points but today we won. The series is so competitive; everyone wants to win the championship and everyone is pushing really hard. The team gave me a great car today and I was very happy with the Mazda engine. I wasn’t that quick in the beginning but it was very tricky conditions so I decided to save my tires and wait to make a move until later in the race. On the first restart, guys got around me and then there was the crash, so I knew I had to push. My car was really good but as the track started to dry, I was looking for the wet lines. The Cooper tires did a great job; it was very difficult at the end but the tires survived! I’m happy to have momentum going into Iowa and Toronto so now it’s about getting points.”
Negrao said, “I’ve waited a long time for this moment and finally it came. I’m very happy for the team as well to get a podium for both cars. It was a crazy first few laps. We were all fighting for positions – Serralles, Jones, Stoneman and me. They went a little bit outside so I went inside, but Jones came inside really fast and we crashed a little bit. But my car was okay so I kept going. It was really difficult because it wasn’t completely wet conditions. The track really started to dry and the car was moving a lot. I was happy to see the checkered flag!”
Later that day, the Verizon IndyCar Series headlined the race weekend on the four-mile, 14-turn road course.
James Hinchcliffe, who started from the last position due to an unlucky incident in Saturday’s qualifying, had a rough start to the 50-lap race when he spun in turn 14, but was able to continue. His No. 5 Arrow Electronics crew went off strategy for tires and fuel based on the qualifying run, but ultimately, the Canadian driver was only able to advance eight spots by the end of the race.
“It was kind of a bittersweet day in the Arrow Electronics car,” said Hinchcliffe. “ We had a really quick car on the reds and went off sequence a little bit there to try to get some clean track. We pumped out a lot of quick laps – I think we had the third-quickest race lap – and made progress on some guys. I had a spin early in the race, which really killed us not having a yellow to catch that back up. We weren’t quite as strong on the blacks as we were on the reds. On the last stint, if it had stayed green, I think we’d have been okay. We had just put sticker blacks on but then on the restart we kind of got swallowed up by the guys on reds. It was just bad timing on the yellow there and we just weren’t able to make quite as much progress as we were hoping today.”
Teammate Mikhail Aleshin, in his first race at Road America, had a solid qualifying run on Saturday and started the race in 13th. The first three-quarters of the Russian driver’s race went smoothly but a brake issue with just over ten laps to go cost him positions. He would finish 16th.
“It was a very frustrating race for us in the SMP Racing car,” said Aleshin. “We struggled at the beginning but the car came to us. We had some brake issues at the end but still were in line for a very good finish. Unfortunately we had a penalty for blocking early on, but we were blocked at the end and there was no penalty given so it’s a little inconsistent and difficult for me to understand. Overall, we made good progress throughout the weekend. The guys worked really hard and I like the Road America track.”
In two weeks, the Verizon IndyCar Series heads to Iowa for the tenth race of the 2016 season. The Iowa Corn 300 will take place at Iowa Speedway on Sunday, July 10 at 5:00 p.m. ET. The 300-lap competition will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network and tickets are available online at www.IowaSpeedway.com.