Toronto, Ontario – July 16, 2016 – Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM) drivers James Hinchcliffe and Mikhail Aleshin both advanced to the second round of qualifying on Saturday afternoon for Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto race, and earned sixth and tenth place starting positions, respectively.
Hinchcliffe advanced to the Firestone Fast Six round and was on a fast lap when another car was released from the pits in front of him. His time of 1:01.5637 left him with the sixth-place spot. Despite the incident, the Canadian driver was happy with the qualifying attempt in front of his hometown crowd.
“I’m really pleased with the result today. We got back into the Fast Six after two weeks of shot-gunning the field. It’s kind of nice to be back at the sharp end of the grid. The Arrow Electronics guys did a great job. It’s such a tough track out here with the conditions, the surface changes, the bumps obviously, but they did what they had to do and gave me a car that could get up there. I’m proud of all of them and hopefully the best starting spot I’ve ever had here turns into the best finish I’ve ever had here.”
Teammate Aleshin’s crew worked hard to get the No. 7 car ready for qualifying after the Russian driver made contact with the wall during the third Verizon IndyCar Series practice earlier in the day. His qualifying time of 1:00.6355 put him on the outside of row five for Sunday’s race.
“I think the SMP Racing crew did a good job with this session. Tenth place in qualifying isn’t the best position but it’s not the worst either. We know what we need to work on for tomorrow’s race, and the race is what really matters. We have 85 laps to move forward and that’s a long way, so we’re fine.”
Earlier in the day, the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires Series qualified and held the first race of a double-header weekend.
With under five minutes to go in the Indy Lights qualifying session, Santiago Urrutia hit the wall on the entry of turn ten. He had just made it past the qualifying line and earned the quickest lap but his two fastest laps were negated for causing a red flag, giving him a third-place starting position for the 35-lap race. He fought hard to maintain the fifth-place spot and gained one final position before the checkered flag fell. He will start the second race in fifth.
Teammate Andre Negrao started sixth. On lap two, he had advanced to fourth when a flat left rear tire sent him into the runoff in turn three. He went to the back of the field and would finish four laps down in eleventh place. The Brazilian driver completed the second-fastest lap of the race, giving him a second place starting position on the outside of the front row.
On Sunday, the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires Series will complete the second race of the double-header weekend at 11:15 a.m. ET. In the afternoon, the Verizon IndyCar Series headlines the weekend with the Honda Indy Toronto. The green flag for 85 laps of competition will take place at 3:15 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live on CNBC.