Long Pond, PA – August 20, 2016 – Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM) driver Mikhail Aleshin earned his first Verizon P1 career pole position on Saturday afternoon for the ABC Supply Co 500 race at Pocono Raceway, becoming the first Russian ever to win a pole position in IndyCar.
Aleshin’s No. 7 SMP Racing car was fastest on the time charts during the first Verizon IndyCar Series practice session on Saturday morning. The Moscow native’s two-lap qualifying average of 220.445 showcased his on-the-edge racing style and was two-tenths of a second quicker than the second-place qualifier. Aleshin proudly flew his native flag as he celebrated the pole position with his SMP Racing crew.
“It’s my first pole in INDYCAR and I am so happy to bring up the car, the No. 7 SMP Racing, up there,” said Aleshin. “The team did an amazing job. We had a couple of moments in turn one, but I decided to keep it flat and see what would happen. (Hitting) the wall didn’t happen, but pole position happened. Amazing.
“In the practice this morning, we were P1. What I know for sure is that in the practice, we were very good in the race mode. I hope it’s going to stay like this tomorrow and that’s what’s going to be really important. I mean, I’m happy to be fast by myself on the track but it’s not going to be like this in the race. We need to prepare for running in the pack tomorrow. The race is what’s important. That’s where you get the trophy.”
Teammate James Hinchcliffe, who was second-quickest during the first practice session on Saturday morning, also had a solid qualifying run with a two-lap average of 219.463. He will start Sunday’s race in sixth place on the outside of row three.
“It was a solid effort from the whole Arrow Electronics team,” said Hinchcliffe. “It’s awesome that Mikhail is on pole and we have another one for the team this year. We came here feeling fairly confident with the speedway package after the month of May, then we went one-two in practice and now we have two cars in the top six to start the race.
“We’ll see what we can do with a five-hundred mile race. Obviously a lot can happen in that time but starting at the sharp end of the grid is definitely good. Also, huge credit goes to the Arrow Electronics crew for all the effort they put into these speedway cars and hopefully we can bring home a good result for them.”
The ABC Supply Co 500 is scheduled to take place on Sunday, August 21 with an estimated green flag at 3:09 p.m. ET. The 200-lap, 500-mile race will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network and fans can still purchase tickets at PoconoRaceway.com.