SPM teammates hit by a pair of penalties at Watkins Glen

Photo: IndyCar

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Sometimes a press release – and its headline – speaks for itself, and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ post-qualifying press release does the job after a highly abnormal qualifying session where both James Hinchcliffe and Mikhail Aleshin got penalized for separate interference infractions assessed by INDYCAR.

Hinchcliffe’s was assessed on Will Power in Q1 and Aleshin on Juan Pablo Montoya in Q2, and it knocked both of them out of advancing into their next respective session. Hinchcliffe starts 13th and Aleshin 10th tomorrow.

SPM Left in a New York State of Disbelief After Qualifying

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM) drivers Mikhail Aleshin and James Hinchcliffe were headed toward the Firestone Fast Six during Saturday’s Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying. Both were handed interference penalties that put them in 10th and 13th place respectively, on the starting grid for Sunday’s IndyCar Grand Prix at Watkins Glen International.

Hinchcliffe finished the first session with a 1:23.7342, however he was penalized by INDYCAR and forced to forfeit his fastest lap for a spin that allegedly caused interference. Despite a time fast enough to advance to the second round, the Canadian driver’s qualifying effort was aborted.

“It was an incredibly frustrating day at the office,” said Hinchcliffe. “Honestly, the spin is irrelevant. We’re not advancing because of the decisions INDYCAR made. It’s just really disappointing. We put a lot of work into the Arrow Electronics car and made it a lot better from yesterday and we had P4 in that session. The guys did such a good job and we’re going to be starting way further back than we deserve to be for really no reason. The next step is to make a wicked fast race car and pass them all.”

The penalty for Hinchcliffe’s car allowed Aleshin, who was seventh in the first group, to advance to round two. The Russian driver earned a sixth place spot with a time of 1:23.2640 and was prepared to advance to the Firestone Fast Six. Just as the final qualifying round was about to start, Aleshin was handed an interference penalty and dropped from the remainder of qualifying.

“I think that I did all that I could,” said Aleshin. “I thought that I just needed to let the other drivers go so that I could have a clear lap. I knew that Montoya was behind me so I moved to the right. You can see it on the replay. They’re far away and I’m moving to the right. INDYCAR gave me the penalty when I had two identical laps and I was in the top six.

“They didn’t take only one lap, they took away two fastest laps, even though I moved to the right. I think it’s not very fair. I have no words. I’m just sorry for my fans because I did all I could and the team did a fantastic job to bring the SMP Racing No. 7 car up there but here we go. We’re going to forget about today and fight for tomorrow.”