Schmidt Peterson Motorsports endured a tough night at the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday.
After missing qualifying for the race on Friday following an accident in practice, James Hinchcliffe in the No.5 Arrow Electronics Honda started the race from the back of the grid at the back of the field and suffered throughout the race with balance and vibration issues and ended the race in 18th place.
Speaking following the race, the Mayor of HinchTown commented by saying:
Man, fun day at the office, for sure, “There’s no doubt that missing as much practice as we did hurt us. It kind of took us a couple stops to get the No. 5 Arrow Electronics car dialed in to what we needed to feel to be able to race those guys. Unfortunately, by that point, we had already caught an unlucky yellow right after a pit stop that put us a couple laps down.
Hinch went on to say:
It’s sort of the same story as St. Pete. The first stint, we’re running around at the tail of the field but we’re able to keep the leaders behind us and stay on the lead lap. After that first round of green stops, we just caught that unlucky yellow and from there, you’re kind of just trying to play damage control. On the last two sets of tires, we were picking up a pretty bad vibration halfway through the stint, so we could be decent at the start of a run and then the second half was a little tougher.
The Mayor concluded by saying:
All in all, it was a long day but that kind of thing is almost to be expected when you start the weekend off the way we did. We’ll bounce back in Long Beach and try and get some good points.
While Hinch had a tough race, team mate Mikhail Aleshin in the No.7 SPM Racing Honda also struggled. The Russian started the race from 13th place and race as high as ninth place, with 48 laps remaining of the 250 Aleshin spun at the entrance to pit road and finished the race in 17th place.
Speaking following the race he stated:
I have mixed feelings after this race, I think the No. 7 SMP Racing car was good. The car was very good, actually. I was fighting like – as we say in Russia – like on the last day. Then we got unlucky with a set of tires, that’s why we needed to do the extra pit stop. Then we got a bit unlucky with yellow flags. Then I made a mistake coming off the banking into the pits. I lost the car on the way in. I’m happy that we showed the potential of the car but it was really hard to fight with Chevy. It’s something to think about for the next races and I’m happy to finish my first oval race since the crash in 2014.