Thursday, March 5, 2015

2015 Verizon IndyCar Team-By-Team Preview: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

For the third consecutive season, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports had a car finish in the top five of the IndyCar championship however Simon Pagenaud has moved on to Team Penske and the team now has James Hinchcliffe carrying the weight and expectations. Also gone from 2014 is Mikhail Aleshin. The Russians season was cut short after an accident in final practice at Fontana kept him from starting the race due to a concussion, broken clavicle, fractured ribs and chest injuries. He has been replaced James Jakes who did not compete in any series in 2014.

2014 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports Review:
Wins: 2 (IMS Road Course, Houston 2).
Poles: 1 (Houston 1)
Final Championship Position: 5th (Simon Pagenaud), 17th (Mikhail Aleshin), 30th (Jacques Villeneuve).

2015 Drivers:

James Hinchcliffe
The Canadian left Andretti Autosport after three seasons and joins his third team in Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. Hinchcliffe went winless in 2014 after picking up his first three career victories in 2013. He was among the best in qualifying,- as his average starting position was 7.91, third best but that did not transfer over in the races as his average finish was 12.388, tied for 11th best. Hinchcliffe finished 12th in the championship standings, matching his career worst, which came in his rookie season. In the other two seasons of Hinchcliffe's career he has finished eighth in the championship. Hinchcliffe has scored more points in each season he has competed in.

Numbers to Remember: 34. Amount of top ten finishes in Hinchcliffe's 68 IndyCar starts.

14. Amount of finishes outside the top twenty in Hinchcliffe's IndyCar career.

0. Career poles for Hinchcliffe.

9. Amount of times Hinchcliffe has started second.

Predictions/Goals: Hinchcliffe needs to translate great starting positions into finishes. He has had the speed in qualifying but seemed to be snake bitten in 2014. Getting his first career pole could go a long way for Hinchcliffe. He started second five times in 2014. Those 13 points (he started second for the Indianapolis 500 and pole is worth nine points at Indianapolis) would have vaulted Hinchcliffe up to ninth in the championship ahead of Marco Andretti, S├ębastien Bourdais and Ryan Briscoe. Hinchcliffe doesn't finish 8th or 12th in the championship. He is a contender for the top ten of championship and could pull out a victory.

James Jakes
The British driver did not participate in any series in 2014. Jakes made 50 starts from 2011-13 driving for Dale Coyne Racing and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing with his best finish being second at Belle Isle 2 in 2013. He started second in that race as well.

Numbers to Remember: 526. Amount of days between starts for Jakes, should he start at St. Petersburg. Last start was Fontana on October 19, 2013.

2493. Amount of days between Jakes' last victory in any competitive series and St. Petersburg. His last victory was in Formula Three Euro Series on May 31, 2008 at the Pau Grand Prix.

17.4. Jakes' average IndyCar career finish.

5. Amount of top tens finishes in Jakes' career.

Predictions/Goals: While Jakes has been consistent and has proved to be a competent driver, I don't see him coming off a sabbatical and improving much from his last season in IndyCar. Perhaps he can breakthrough for a top ten or two and has a makes the Fast Twelve on a few occasions but he will be trailing Hinchcliffe in most sessions. He will be in the bottom quarter of full-time drivers in the championship.

The 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series seasons gets underway on Sunday March 29th. ABC's coverage will begin at 3:00 p.m. ET with green flag at 3:30 p.m. ET.