Sonoma, CA – September 18, 2016 – Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM) drivers Mikhail Aleshin and James Hinchcliffe finished eleventh and twelfth for the Verizon IndyCar Series 2016 season finale on Sunday afternoon at the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma.
Aleshin started on the inside of row six for the 85-lap competition. On just the first lap, he was spun by Sebastien Bourdais. Although he was able to keep the car running and get back on track, he dropped to the back of the field.
Mid-way through the race, he was hit by Jack Hawksworth but again managed to continue and keep fighting his way up through the field to finish with a four-stop pit strategy.
“The team did a fantastic job,” said Aleshin. “Bourdais did a job like he always does but I’m not going to worry about it. I’m happy to be here in the SMP Racing car racing for this team. Thank you also to my fans for cheering for me this season.”
Teammate Hinchcliffe started on the outside of row ten and gained five spots in just the first four laps of the race. Beforehand, the team had agreed to attempt just three pit stops so the Canadian driver made the first one on lap 16. A full-course caution came out as Hinchcliffe entered the pits for his second stop on lap 38. The timing allowed him to finish the race with just one more stop and only minimal fuel saving.
“It wasn’t a terrible day but it wasn’t a tremendous day,” said Hinchcliffe. “From where we started, I think coming home twelfth was a reasonable gain but we were certainly hoping for more coming into the day. The Arrow Electronics car was good. We just kind of waivered back and forth about which strategy to use and went with the three-stopper, which might have been the right call. It’s tough to tell until we sit down and look at it.
“Either way, we brought the car home and the crew was great in the pits. The car was better in the race than it has been all weekend. Like I said, it was not the finish that we wanted but it was still a great season overall. A big thanks to SPM and Arrow Electronics for a great 2016 and we’ll be back stronger than ever next year.”
The GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma marks the end of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season. The championship points standings show Hinchcliffe in thirteenth and Aleshin in fifteenth. SPM’s off-season testing is tentatively scheduled to begin in October and the 2017 season begins on the streets of St. Petersburg on March 12, 2017.