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Schmidt confirms Aleshin’s return in 2017

Mikhail Aleshin has signed for a third season at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, killing off rumors of him possibly switching to Andretti Autosport.

Mikhail Aleshin, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
Mikhail Aleshin, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
Mikhail Aleshin, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
James Hinchcliffe, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
Podium: race winner Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet, second place Mikhail Aleshin, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, third place Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport Honda
Mikhail Aleshin, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
Polesitter Mikhail Aleshin, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda

The Russian, who lost possible victory at Mid-Ohio this year in a pitlane fracas, then scored pole position and a runner-up finish at Pocono Raceway, had become hot property in the off-season, although team co-owner Sam Schmidt had always intended keeping him on.

His signing means SPM’s lineup remains the same, although there are still hopes that a third ARROW-sponsored car will make occasional starts, including the Indianapolis 500.

Of Aleshin, Schmidt commented to IndyCar.com: “The guy has got true raw talent. In 2010 in Formula Renault 3.5, he beat Daniel Ricciardo, who is a very highly respected F1 guy now. So you know the talent is there.

“We’ve just got to give him a car and when he’s making his way around these tracks for a third time next year, he’ll be a week-in and week-out force to be reckoned with and somebody that can push James [Hinchcliffe, his teammate] to that next level as well.”

After a rookie IndyCar season in 2014 that saw him finish runner-up on the Houston street course, Aleshin was forced to miss the majority of the 2015 IndyCar season due to U.S. sanctions on Russian funding at that time. However, these sanctions were lifted in time for Aleshin to make his series return in the final race of 2015 and resume his open-wheel career with SPM this year, partnering Hinchcliffe.

“Now that we’ve got those two done, it’s a matter of firming up with all of the key individuals on the team and hopefully continue on and win races,” Schmidt said. “This deal is all about chemistry and continuity and it’s been a building process for us…

“The good news is he loves Indianapolis, he loves the series, he loves the circuits,” Schmidt said. “He doesn’t like the Formula 1 stress and anxiety. I think he’s found a home. He likes everybody here and we’ve built a team around him now, kind of like we built a team around Simon [Pagenaud] back in the day. He doesn’t want to go anywhere.”

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