SPM rides momentum from Houston success into Pocono - video

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Simon Pagenaud and Mikhail Aleshin finished 1-2 in Race 2 on June 29 at the Grand Prix of Houston.

INDIANAPOLIS - There is no stronger motivator than success, and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports is more determined than ever entering the Pocono INDYCAR 500 race weekend after Simon Pagenaud and Mikhail Aleshin finished 1-2 in Race 2 on June 29 at the Grand Prix of Houston.

"It felt like a double win in Houston with me and Simon both on top of the podium," Aleshin said. "That result is pushing the team to work even harder, because now we smell blood."

Drivers found the Houston doubleheader races to be grueling due to extreme heat and humidity, and they have another challenge waiting for them in Pocono with a 500-mile race on the 2.5-mile tri-oval scheduled for Sunday, July 6.

"It's going to be a very long race in Pocono," Pagenaud said. "But after Houston, I feel like we can handle anything."

Pagenaud, who sits fourth in the Verizon IndyCar Series championship standings with 346 points, is primed to take advantage of double points available to the winner in Pocono.

"It's going to be so important to make sure we don't have a problem in the race this weekend, because the winner will take home 100 points," he said. "This is a double points race, and a small problem knocking you out of contention during a 500-mile race could be very detrimental to our championship fight."

Pocono Raceway stands out on the Verizon IndyCar schedule as the lone tri-oval, with each of the three corners presenting a different challenge for drivers and teams.

"Pocono is easily the most challenging oval in terms of diversity," Pagenaud said. "There's a lot of banking in Turn 1, and Turn 2 has less, while Turn 3 is flat. Each corner requires a completely different mode of attack. It's essential to have the proper ride height and stiffness of the suspension at each area on the track. As a driver you have to be ready to adapt and use your tools in the cockpit throughout the race."

Rookie Aleshin has taken a liking to ovals since his first crack at the Indianapolis 500 in May, but he will have only two hours of practice to acclimate to Pocono Raceway before qualifications.

"It seems like no matter what track we're on, my driving style is different than everyone else's," Aleshin said. "I've found that I have a knack for oval racing, but I have no idea if that's going to transfer to Pocono because it's such a unique track. It's so important to be careful on ovals, though. You need to be confident but always mindful that an oval can kick you very hard if you make even the smallest mistake."

Qualifying airs on NBC Sports Network at 7 p.m. (ET) Saturday, July 5 from Pocono Raceway.

Simon and Mikhail have World Cup Fever

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

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Series INDYCAR
Article type Previews
Tags indycar, mikhail aleshin, pocono, simon pagenaud, spm