Avondale, LA – April 12, 2015 – James Hinchcliffe won the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana on Sunday, while teammate James Jakes earned a third place finish to give Schmidt Peterson Motorsports a double podium finish.
A promising qualifying that saw both drivers advance to the second round of the Firestone Fast Six was later canceled by rain. The race grid was then set by entrant points, putting Hinchcliffe in P16 and Jakes in P22.
Weather continued to be an issue on race day, threatening further delays for the Verizon IndyCar Series. When a window finally opened up, the No. 5 Arrow Electronics car and the No. 7 MediaTech car started on wet tires.
Just under 15 laps into the race, both cars switched to red tires. From that point forward, cautions were abundant and played in favor of Hinchcliffe’s strategy. By saving fuel, the Canadian driver was able to stretch his fuel just far enough to cross the finish line – under yellow – in first place.
“It was a stellar day for the team with a first and third finish,” said Hinchcliffe. “What an awesome way to leave New Orleans. We were all pretty gutted that qualifying got rained out because I think James [Jakes] and I had some pace to get into the top half of the grid.
“In the race, we really compromised on setup. We knew it was going to dry up and wanted to make sure that we were good in both conditions. Big credit to Allen and Will and the guys for putting us where we needed to be. Then it came to that strategy call from Robert on the stand and all the guys for that great pit stop. We made some spots up in the rain and in the first stop, then we took that gamble.
“At first, we were cursing the yellows because we really wanted to build a gap before our next stop. Then there was a point where we kind of changed our tune and we were praying for yellows. Even though I’m a bit gutted for the fans that they didn’t get more green flag running, I’m super happy for the team – Arrow Electronics, Lucas Oil, Spyder, everybody – to come here with a new team like this in our second race and get that first win out of the way feels really good. Especially after the year that I personally had last year, we really just wanted to start this relationship off well and so far, so good.”
Jakes echoed his teammate’s excitement, saying, “Congratulations to the No. 5 car. It was a great day for the whole team. I think as a group, we needed that, especially after yesterday. We got kind of hosed with qualifying and had to start twenty-second, but I guess if there’s any karma in racing, we saw it today.
“We had great pace in these conditions and it kind of paid dividends. I think also, if we’d of been able to run a little bit longer in green, we would’ve been able to win the thing, but it’s great for Hinch and our guys. They needed that – they’ve all been working their butts off. Now we look forward to Long Beach. We’ve had two great results with no damage so it’s time to move on.”
In one week, Hinchcliffe, Jakes and rest of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers head to the West coast for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The 80-lap competition will take place on Sunday, April 19 at 4:30 p.m. ET. Fans can get more information and buy tickets at www.gplb.com or catch all the action live on NBC Sports Network.