Marco Andretti’s fourth leads Sonoma ‘best of the rest’

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The rest of the top 10, beyond the podium in Sunday’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, was overshadowed in the aftermath of the post-race drama. But here are a few notes on IndyCar finishers P4-10:

  • Fourth-placed Marco Andretti picked up his third top-five in the last 10 races and improved from 11th on the grid. There have been days this year where his pace was enough to win but a result went begging; in this case, it was a quiet, methodical march to the front as the top finishing Andretti Autosport entry.
  • Simon Pagenaud in fifth told me post-race the tire degradation wasn’t nearly as bad as he or the HP Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports team was expecting. Surprisingly it is only the third top-five finish of the season for him.
  • Ryan Hunter-Reay’s race was screwed from the moment he didn’t pit on the third caution of Lap 17. He pitted for the first time on the fourth caution, and that cost him track position that he spent all day recovering from, ultimately ending in sixth.
  • Points leader Helio Castroneves started fifth, finished seventh, and still gained 8 points on Scott Dixon when all was said and done. Another maximized points day for the Brazilian in search of his elusive first title.
  • James Hinchcliffe made it three Andretti cars in the top 10 in eighth after a good, but not great weekend in the No. 27 GoDaddy Chevrolet.
  • Needed top-10s for Simona de Silvestro in ninth and Sebastien Bourdais in 10th. Both have struggled for results of late. This is Simona’s second top-10 in the last 11 races and Bourdais’ third of the season, besides his pair of podiums in Toronto.

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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