Phoenix Update: Carl Edwards leads at halfway mark

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A quick pit stop has Carl Edwards leading the Subway Fresh Fit 500k at the halfway point.

On Lap 141, Ryan Newman hit the wall for the second time of the afternoon and brought out the caution. Brad Keselowski and pole sitter Mark Martin were the top two at the time, but Edwards was able to beat ’em all out of the pits when everyone came in for service.

Keselowski had been the leader since Lap 128, when he took the point from pole sitter Mark Martin — who had re-assumed the lead by staying out under caution following Newman’s first run-in with the wall on Lap 98.

Martin was forced to give up track position when he pitted under green at Lap 64 after disclosing a possible loose wheel on his No. 55 Toyota. But when a yellow came out one lap later for a Dave Blaney crash, Martin was able to receive the “free pass” and get back on the lead lap. He then drove back into the top 25 before returning to the front of the field on Newman’s aforementioned first incident.

As for those that had to start at the back of the field today, Kurt Busch (damaged primary car in qualifying) and Denny Hamlin (engine change) have both charged into the Top 10. However, Kyle Busch (engine change) is still trying to get up front thanks to a spin and damage he sustained on Lap 48.

Subway Fresh Fit 500k at Phoenix

Top 10 at Lap 156/312 (Halfway Point)

1. Carl Edwards

2. Jimmie Johnson

3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

4. Kevin Harvick

5. Denny Hamlin

6. Matt Kenseth

7. Aric Almirola

8. Kasey Kahne

9. Kurt Busch

10. Greg Biffle

IndyCar: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports expands mentoring program for tech school students

Photos: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
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IndyCar team Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced today that it is extending and widening a unique sponsorship and mentoring program that began last season with students from Lincoln Technical Institute.

The program began last year, with students from several Lincoln Tech branches attending select IndyCar events for an entire weekend.

The students, primarily from auto and diesel training programs, got an insiders experience with the team, taking part in team meetings, watching team workers prepare and service the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda of driver James Hinchcliffe, sat on pit boxes during practices, qualifying and, of course races.

The overall experience was to get students more interested and involved in potential careers in the IndyCar field.

“We said at the beginning of last season that we knew our students would benefit and learn from the professionalism and drive of the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team,” Lincoln Tech President and CEO Scott Shaw said. “But the experience they received working with the entire pit crew team and in particular crew member Cole Jagger – a Lincoln Tech graduate himself – went beyond even our own expectations.

“We were grateful for the time they spent mentoring our students, and we are thrilled to once again be part of the racing legacy of team owners Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson.”

Lincoln Tech will once again serve as an associate sponsor on Hinchcliffe’s car for the entire 2018 IndyCar season. In addition, it is expanding its Mentor Program to select students to attend a minimum of nine IndyCar races from six last season.

Students are selected based upon their grade point average, attendance, conduct and overall commitment to becoming outstanding automotive technicians. An interest in IndyCar and a desire to work in the industry is also considered.

One student that took part last season, Tyler Crist of Lincoln Tech’s Denver campus, joined the team at the IndyCar race in Long Beach last April, watching as Hinchcliffe won the event.

“It was the best weekend of my life,” Crist said after the event. “It reminded me of why I joined this field in the first place and to never give up on my dreams.”

Jagger will oversee the expanded mentoring program this season. For Jagger, being involved especially hits home, as he is a graduate of Lincoln Tech’s Indianapolis campus.

“I totally enjoyed working with the Lincoln Tech students that participated in the Mentor Program last year and look forward to meeting this year’s group,” Jagger said. “Being a Lincoln Tech grad, I hope the students realize that if you have a passion for cars, a career in racing is something that’s not out of reach. If I can be an example for them to follow, that makes it even more rewarding.”

In addition to the at-track activities of the mentoring program, several Lincoln Tech branches across the country will utilize CNC computerized machining and manufacturing tools to assist in creating car parts for SPM.

“Through this unique partnership, we’re able to hopefully find the next class of talent that could one day be part of our organization,” SPM president Jon Flack said. “We’re looking forward to another year of the mentorship program and having their students be ‘boots on the ground’ gaining real-life experience with our team.”

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