Trouble at the Beach for Andretti Autosport

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Andretti Autosport’s bid to claim the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach was severely impacted by a crash that came just after a restart on Lap 35 of today’s event.

Three of the four Andretti drivers were involved in the incident, which began when James Hinchcliffe (pictured) attempted to pass Tony Kanaan on the inside of Turn 1. The pass went awry when Hinchcliffe hit the back of Kanaan instead, causing him to go into the inside wall and then ricochet into teammate E.J. Viso before hitting the Turn 1 tire barriers. Viso kept going, but Hinchcliffe could not and upon returning to pit road, “The Mayor” quickly rode off on his scooter with his helmet still on.

“I didn’t get the best restart and Tony had a smokin’ one and I was trying to keep, I think it was [Simon] Pagenaud, behind me on the inside as we got down to Turn 1,” said Hinchcliffe, who finished 26th. “…I don’t know if Tony was trying to do a last minute pass or if he was getting squeezed by someone else, but he moved in the brake zone and I just had nowhere to go and day done.”

In addition, Ryan Hunter-Reay also sustained damage, which forced him to the pits to receive a new front wing. Then on Lap 49, his day ended when he went into Turn 8 too hot while trying to pass Ana Beatriz and slammed into the tires there (he was credited with 24th place).

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Viso soldiered on until he parked his car with 10 laps to go, settling for 22nd place.

Marco Andretti kept the day from turning into a total bust for the group by rising from 25th starting position to seventh at the checkered flag — another sure sign of progress for him on street circuits, which were especially rough on the third-generation driver last season.

“Going into this, I knew that this would be about the best we would finish,” Andretti said. “I am definitely pleased with how we climbed our way through the field and how we stayed consistent throughout the day. We knew that if we just stayed in the race and didn’t make any mistakes, we would be good. I had some front wing damage and a lot of understeer the whole race.”

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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