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Aleshin, Honda Finish Fifth on Iowa Bullring

  • Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver matches season-best result
  • Impressive runs recorded by Indy 500 winner Rossi, Hinchcliffe
  • Vibration issues, Ill-timed caution flag costs Rahal

Continuing to show the short oval form he demonstrated throughout practice and qualifying, Mikhail Aleshin led the way for Honda on Sunday at Iowa Speedway, finishing fifth in the Iowa Corn 300, the second and final short track event in the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series.

Starting ninth, Aleshin was one of only four other drivers able to maintain pace and finish on the lead lap with eventual race winner Josef Newgarden after 300 circuits of the banked, 0.894-mile Iowa Speedway oval.

Despite starting well back in the field, 17th, in just his second short-oval appearance, Indianapolis 500 winner and series rookie Alexander Rossi produced the performance of an oval racing veteran, as his Andretti Autosport Honda was particularly strong during the second half of the race and he methodically worked his way forward to finish sixth.

Starting 22nd and last in the field following a chassis issue in qualifying, James Hinchcliffe also powered his way forward to finish ninth at the checkers. Starting 12th, Graham Rahal moved into the top 10 early in the contest, but fought vibration issues after the first round of pit stops. The vibration forced Rahal to make an early final pit stop on Lap 173, costing him a lap to the leaders when the last of three yellow flags waved just four laps later and the rest of the field was able to pit under caution, dropping Rahal to a 16th-place finish.

Video recaps from this weekend’s Honda Verizon IndyCar Series activities at Iowa Speedway are being posted on the “Honda Racing/HPD” YouTube channel.  Produced by the Carolinas Production Group, the video packages can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/HondaRacingHPDTV.

The Verizon IndyCar Series now heads north to Canada for next weekend’s Honda Indy Toronto, July 17 on the streets of Exhibition Place.

Mikhail Aleshin (#7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda) started 9th, finished 5th, career best Iowa finish: “Finishing fifth here definitely feels good. We had to make a lot of changes to the car last night, but the team worked hard and did a great job. The car was very consistent all day long, and that’s exactly what you need here. In 2014 [his previous Iowa race], I finished here in the wall. I like this more!”

Alexander Rossi (#98 Andretti Autosport Honda) started 17th, finished 6th: “Starting 17th made our life hard. I think we were unlucky in terms of the yellows, when they came out, because our strength today was in the second half of our tire life. We had really, really good tire life and everyone else was struggling. We were able to stay out but we were never able to take advantage of that. Nonetheless a good result from where we started, and we’re looking forward to Toronto.”

Marc Sours (Senior Manager/Chief Engineer, Honda Performance Development) on today’s race in Iowa: “We realize we need to work harder, with our teams, to improve our overall performance on the short ovals. That being said, Mikhail Aleshin and the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team, found a way to persevere and run towards the front of the field. James Hinchcliffe, in the second SPM Honda, and Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi were also impressive as they came up from the back of the field to finish well. We learned a lot this weekend, and we’ll build on that for next week’s race in Toronto and the rest of the season.”