Watkins Glen, NY – September 4, 2016 – Bad luck was the name of the game on Sunday at Watkins Glen when Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM) drivers James Hinchcliffe and Mikhail Aleshin finished 18th and 22nd respectively during the IndyCar Grand Prix.
Saturday’s controversial qualifying session put Aleshin tenth and Hinchcliffe thirteenth on the starting grid, despite both having cars fast enough to be in the Firestone Fast Six.
On just the first lap Sunday, Aleshin was on the outside of three cars that attempted to go four-wide with him, spinning his car and sending him off track. He was able to get going again but was shuffled back to 21st. Meanwhile, Hinchcliffe gained two spots and moved into the top ten.
On lap 15, Aleshin was coming in to pit when the left rear tire went down and sent him into the barriers in turn four. The contact caused too much damage for the Russian driver to continue. He would finish 22nd.
“This was a great weekend to start and not so great to finish,” said Aleshin. “Qualifying was frustrating and in the race, the tire exploded. I hope that we got all of the bad luck out of the way here and we can have a strong finish to the season in Sonoma. The No. 7 SMP Racing car was fantastic in the first stint. I had the second best time in the race, which shows the potential we have for Sonoma.”
Although not an ideal caution time for Hinchcliffe, his No. 5 Arrow Electronics crew made the first of three solid pit stops that played a part in his charge toward the front. Two additional caution periods in the next 25 laps meant a viable fuel strategy plan for the Canadian driver’s crew.
With three laps to go, other race leaders were forced to pit for fuel. Hinchcliffe advanced to second place, where he would hold his position until the fuel ran out with only three corners to go. He would finish 18th.
“It was a frustrating end to a frustrating weekend,” said Hinchcliffe. “I was meeting fuel numbers during the last stint and I could easily have saved more at the end, but I lost the radio on the last lap. I was just cruising because I didn’t know if I needed to save more or not. Either way, I have to give credit to the No. 5 Arrow Electronics crew because the pit stops were on point today and they did what they needed to do. The car had the speed all weekend and hopefully we’ll be able to carry that over to Sonoma.”
In two weeks, the Verizon IndyCar Series heads to the West coast for the sixteenth and final race of the 2016 season. The GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma will take place on Sunday, September 18 at 6:30 p.m. ET. The 85-lap competition will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network and tickets are available online at www.SonomaRaceway.com.