Fort Worth, TX – August 27, 2016 – Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM) driver James Hinchcliffe earned a hard-fought second place finish under the lights during the continuation of the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway.
The 248-lap race, which started on June 10th and was rescheduled due to severe weather, resumed at lap 72 with Hinchcliffe leading and teammate Mikhail Aleshin in third place on the 1.5-mile banked oval.
The Canadian driver was able to hold the lead of the race for nearly the entire 177 laps, making three solid pit stops and almost lapping the field. The team chose not to pit for tires during the final caution flag and instead opted for maintaining track position.
The final green flag flew with nine laps to go. Four cars battled for the lead and Hinchcliffe was able to hold all of them off, only relinquishing the lead on the last lap and finishing 0.008 seconds behind, the closest finish in track history.
“It was a tough finish, for sure,” said Hinchcliffe. “It was a great race. The Arrow Electronics car was just a rocket ship. We built the thing to be good over a tire stint, which is always the name of the game here in Texas. Tire degradation is key.
“We haven’t had a late-finish, three-wide battle here in Texas since 2011. It was tough. We kept a lot of guys at bay. Like I said, we really built the car for long runs and on those restarts we kept them at bay a couple times but ultimately, Graham [Rahal] and TK [Tony Kanaan] stopped for tires and I think that was kind of the difference maker.
“It’s a tough call but huge credit to the Arrow Electronics boys because the car really was a rocket and congrats to Graham. It’s a lot of fun racing up there with those guys and I think we put on a much better show for the fans than we would’ve if we were leading by half a straight. We’d have liked it better but we’re here to put on a good show.”
Aleshin also drove a solid race, maintaining a spot in the top five for the majority of it. With sixteen laps to go, Aleshin’s No. 7 SMP Racing car spun and made contact with the wall, causing damage that ended the Russian driver’s day.
“Unfortunately, that incident is what happens when a lapped car keeps pushing you out onto the marbles,” said Aleshin. “We had a really great car tonight and it was definitely capable of finishing in the top three or four. The SMP Racing crew did an amazing job and we’ll be able to show how fast we are soon.”
In one week, the Verizon IndyCar Series heads to Watkins Glen for the fifteenth race of the Verizon IndyCar Series season. The IndyCar Grand Prix at the Glen will take place on Sunday, September 4 at 2:00 p.m. ET. The 60-lap competition will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network and tickets are available online at www.TheGlen.com.