IndyCar’s movers and shakers out of Milwaukee, heading to Iowa

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The IZOD IndyCar Series’ manic stretch of five races in four weekends after the month of May concludes at the Iowa Speedway this Sunday.

Some stats of note leaving Milwaukee and entering Iowa for the Iowa Corn Indy 250:

  • In the last four races, the gloves have come off between Ryan Hunter-Reay and Helio Castroneves. They each have a win and have smoked the field from a points standpoint; Castroneves holds a 147-145 edge over Hunter-Reay, with Dario Franchitti having scored the third most points at just 111. Simon Pagenaud (104) is the only other driver in the field in this stretch of diverse races with more than 100 points.
  • Unsurprisingly, Hunter-Reay and Castroneves have also scored the most points on ovals this year. Hunter-Reay has secured 136 points to Castroneves’ 129; Tony Kanaan is the only other driver (110) over 100. Marco Andretti is next on 88 points, with Ed Carpenter on 86 and Will Power on 85.
  • E.J. Viso kept his qualifying hot streak alive with his sixth straight top-five grid position in Milwaukee. He followed that up with his first top-five finish of the season. His only career podium came in Iowa in 2010, a third-place result.
  • After his frustrating ending to a dominant weekend in Milwaukee, Marco Andretti heads to undoubtedly his best track on the schedule in the cornfields of Iowa. In six prior starts, Andretti leads the field with four podium finishes, and a win there in 2011. He’s led only 87 laps at the track though, which trails four other current drivers.
  • Alex Tagliani hasn’t scored a top-10 finish for the Barracuda Racing/BHA squad since St. Petersburg, and Dragon Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais hasn’t scored one all season. They’re due.
  • Following the form of bad race-top 10-bad race, expect Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing’s Josef Newgarden to crack the top-10 this weekend. In all four even-numbered races this year, the series sophomore has ended there (ninth at Barber, fifth in Brazil, seventh at Detroit race one, eighth at Texas).

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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