Sonoma, CA – August 30, 2015 – Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM) drivers Ryan Briscoe and Mikhail Aleshin earned fifth and tenth place finishes during the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on Sunday to end the Verizon IndyCar Series season.
Australian driver Briscoe, who started seventeenth, aggressively advanced through the field during the first half of the 85-lap competition. Once he cinched his spot in the top five with approximately thirty laps to go, he fought hard to stay there through the checkered flag.
“It’s nice to finish the season on a high note with a good race in the No. 5 Arrow Electronics car,” said Briscoe. “We got the strategy right and just ran a mistake-free race. It was sort of a grind out there, making the laps and trying not to run off the track. I’m pleased. We had a good run and my best result of the year. I think we’ve been unlucky not to get some better results so it’s nice to bring one home and a solid top five.”
Aleshin, in a third entry for the SPM stable, was the highest qualifier for his team and started the race in 14th. The first stint saw him lose positions and fall back in the field, but after the first pit stop, he moved forward, running as high as eighth before finishing tenth.
“I’m happy,” said Mikhail. “We had a good qualifying effort and a good racecar. I struggled a bit on the first set of tires and we don’t know why yet. Something was definitely wrong because I couldn’t get the pace but we have to look at the data so I can’t say anything. Then after the first pit stop, everything seemed to be fine. The No. 77 SMP Racing car was good and I really enjoyed this race. To finish P10 straightaway after not doing anything in IndyCar this year, it’s a great result for me and for all the team. The guys did a great job.”
Teammate James Jakes started 22nd and picked up two spots during the first two laps of the race. The British driver was on a different fuel strategy and the No. 7 crew was optimistic about the outcome, however a problem with the car on lap 64 sent Jakes into the turn-nine tire barrier, ending his day early. He finished 25th.
“It was a really disappointing end to the season,” said Jakes. “It kind of sums up the weekend, really. We struggled all weekend in the No. 7 Oculus MediaTech Honda but then we got ourselves in a good position during the race and I think we were able to get some solid points. The guys were awesome on pit road. Every time we came in, we managed to hop some cars and then just got caught out by a car issue there at the end. I’m not sure what it was but we’ll analyze. It’s a shame because we were going to pit that lap and then we would’ve been good until the end of the race. It’s disappointing but a big thank you to the whole SPM crew for their work this year.”
The GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma marks the end of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season. In two weeks, the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires Series wraps up their season at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. SPM driver Jack Harvey heads into the race weekend with a six point lead in the championship. The double-header race weekend will take place on Saturday, September 12 and Sunday, September 13, and will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network.