Lexington, OH – July 31, 2016 – Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM) driver James Hinchcliffe earned a fifth-place finish at the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio on Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
The Verizon IndyCar Series headlined the weekend with the 90-lap race on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course. James Hinchcliffe started ninth. Early in the race, he fell back several spots and caught an unlucky yellow. After a pit lane speed violation on lap 16, the Canadian driver was running 16th. He would run mid-pack until a pit stop on lap 63, where he gained several spots and started working his way back toward the front.
Hinchcliffe made a couple of good passes to advance to seventh before two more lead cars made contact with each other, advancing him to his fifth-place finish.
“It was a solid result for the Arrow Electronics car,” said Hinchcliffe. “We had a really roller-coaster day, starting mid-field and ending up at the back after about mid-distance and then working our way back up to a top five. I have to give the guys a lot of credit. We had a bit of an evil balance in the first part of the race but every stop we worked on it and every stop we made it better.
“We got back on the red tires in the third stint and it really started to come to us. We picked off some guys in pit cycles and then picked off some guys on track in the last stint. We didn’t catch either of the lucky yellows, we had to earn it, but after falling to the back of the line for a pit-lane speed violation, which was one hundred percent my fault, we raced our way back up to a top five. Great work in the pits and I’m happy for everyone at Arrow, and at Honda at one of their home races.
“It was a tough break for Mikhail and the No. 7 crew but it shows that we have the pace as a team and hopefully we can prove that moving forward.”
Mikhail Aleshin started tenth and gained two spots immediately at the start of the race. A full-course caution on lap 15 was lucky for the Russian driver, giving him a fourth-place spot. On lap 26, Aleshin took the lead and held onto it for 14 laps until his second pit stop. By lap 44, he regained the lead and managed to open a gap of more than ten seconds to the driver in second place.
Unfortunately, during what was scheduled to be his final pit stop, Aleshin was released from the pit box and made contact with another driver in pit lane. He received an “unsafe release” penalty, dropping him to the back of the field. Contact from the incident forced him to have to pit again, where this time he made contact with another team’s crew personnel, giving him a drive-through penalty. When the checkered flag fell, he finished 17th.
“The car was amazing,” said Aleshin. “The team did a fantastic job to bring the No. 7 SMP Racing car up to speed. No one was really faster than we were. I felt quite competitive up there in the front and I wasn’t pushing like crazy because I was also saving fuel. Everything was going proper, perfect and I was saving fuel but at the same time, I was the fastest car on the track so obviously the car was pretty good.
“I think the incident was unfortunate. I don’t want to discuss it though. I want to just say that sometimes these things happen in the race and we’re ready to win but we just got a little bit unlucky today.”
Earlier in the day, Santiago Urrutia scored another victory on Sunday to sweep the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Urrutia, who became the first Indy Lights driver this season to win four races, started from the pole position on Sunday as well. The Uruguayan driver was only six points away from the championship lead going into the second race of the double-header weekend. After the race, he took over the lead by fifteen points.
“I’m really happy for these two victories,” said Urrutia. “It was great for me, for the team and for the championship. It was a much harder race today with the restarts and Felix pushing me very hard. I was able to use my push-to-pass and keep everyone behind me on the restarts. The Cooper Tires came to me through the race and we did our pace. I didn’t expect to take the championship lead this weekend, I have to say, but I came here to win both races and we did that. The team did a great job with the car; it was so quick. But the Series is so competitive and there are three long races to go.”
SPM teammate Negrao started on the inside of row two for the 38-lap race and lost one position during the first lap of the race. When the field evened out by lap three, Negrao held the fourth-place spot until the third-place car spun on turn 11, causing a full-course yellow and giving the Brazilian driver his spot back.
In two weeks, the Verizon IndyCar Series heads east to the Pocono Raceway for the twelfth IndyCar race of the 2016 season. The ABC Supply Company 500, which will take place on Sunday, August 21 at 3:00 p.m. ET. The 200-lap competition will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network and tickets are available online at www.PoconoRaceway.com.