MotorSportsTalk looks through the Verizon IndyCar Series grid ahead of the 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. Next up is Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
After a nightmare 2015 month of May with James Hinchcliffe’s near-fatal accident in practice, then a resilient race day with Ryan Briscoe driving from 31st to 12th, SPM will be looking for a calmer month this year with three new drivers.
James Hinchcliffe, No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
Mikhail Aleshin, No. 7 SMP Racing Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
Oriol Servia, No. 77 Lucas Oil/Jahia Solutions Group SPM with Marotti Racing Honda
2016 SEASON SO FAR
Hinchcliffe enters May with a pair of top-10s in the last two races and Aleshin survived the mess in St. Petersburg for a top-five. SPM’s been there or thereabouts but like the rest of the Honda teams, struggling for outright performance beyond the lower reaches of the top 10.
SPM’s not been the best team at Indy the last few years but has an amicable lineup this go-around. Hinchcliffe’s planned race return is arguably the team’s biggest storyline, and Servia will likely prove invaluable as a setup and feedback resource. Aleshin, too, makes his first big oval start since his last big oval heavy accident at Fontana, which was also terrifying to witness.
The mid-to-lower region of the top-10 is a likely best-case scenario for each of these three drivers. But given the strategists at SPM’s disposal, a strategic gamble could get the finishing positions higher.
- 2015: 12. 5-Briscoe (31), 18. 7-Jakes (19), 33. 43-Daly (22)
- 2014: 12. 77-Pagenaud (5), 14. 5-Villeneuve (27), 21. 7-Aleshin (15)
- 2013: 8. 77-Pagenaud (21), 16. 55-Vautier (28), 26. 81-Legge (33)
- 2012: 9. 99-Bell (20), 16. 77-Pagenaud (23)