By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
Eight months ago today, James Hinchcliffe climbed from his No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda, dejected after failing to qualify for the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.
With crew members, photographers and television cameras nearby, the Canadian had to come to terms with what must’ve been a completely alien concept to him heading into the month of May. After all, Hinchcliffe won the pole for the 2016 Indianapolis 500 and was fifth in points following the INDYCAR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
While many were looking to Schmidt Peterson Motorsports co-owner Sam Schmidt to buy another ride in the field for Hinchcliffe to put him in the field, it wasn’t in the cards. Schmidt decided to keep Hinchcliffe on the sidelines and put some Arrow Electronics decals on the team cars of Robert Wickens and Jay Howard.
Despite their car being off the race track on race day, Arrow still had hospitality guests at the race and continued their involvement with SPM. Many, however, were concerned. Why would Arrow still maintain their involvement at the 500 despite their car not being in the race?
By not making the race, one could argue that the exposure Arrow got from Hinchcliffe being bumped would have surpassed whatever they could have gained from his performance in a race where he’s never finished higher than sixth.
Arrow remained committed to SPM throughout the rest of the season, which saw them in victory lane at Iowa Speedway as Hinchcliffe partially redeemed his season. Now that the season is over, Arrow has rewarded SPM’s tenacity following Wickens’s incident at Pocono by taking over the team’s naming rights.
Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports launched their 2019 liveries with the Nos. 5, 6 and 7 cars on display. Hinchcliffe and team newcomer Marcus Ericsson will be in the 5 and 7 cars respectively with the No. 6 staying off track for Robert Wickens until the Guelph, Ontario native is ready to come back to IndyCar racing.
This is a massive win for IndyCar racing. Arrow Electronics very easily could have backed away from Schmidt and Ric Peterson’s team after what happened in May. However, Schmidt and Arrow have a relationship more than just at the track. Arrow has worked with Schmidt to develop a Chevrolet Corvette that has allowed the quadriplegic team owner to drive.
Arrow believes in Schmidt and Peterson’s team. Stepping up to fund both cars is a significant step toward bringing the team into being more competitive after a 2018 with one pole, one victory, 12 top-five finishes and 19 top-10 finishes. Those results came after an inner-team shakeup designed to make the team more competitive.
Let’s see what the next step is.