INDIANAPOLIS – The “Rushing Russian” is back in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
Mikhail Aleshin, who showed tremendous speed and potential as an IndyCar rookie in 2014 before he was hospitalized after a spectacular crash at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, will return to Schmidt Peterson Motorsports for the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season.
The 28-year-old Russian actually ran a third car for SPM in the 2015 season finale at Sonoma Raceway, finishing 10th. He will take over the No. 7 SMP Racing Honda IndyCar for the entire 2016 season, replacing England’s James Jakes.
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"I’m very happy about the agreement between Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and the SMP Racing Russian driver development program," Aleshin said. "I had an unbelievable experience with IndyCar in 2014 and I can’t wait to be back in this great series. I’m very motivated and 100 percent ready to win."
Aleshin, the first Russian driver to race in the Verizon IndyCar Series, spent the 2015 season competing for SMP Racing in the European LeMans Series (ELMS) and the final race of the FIA World Endurance Championship. Prior to his 2014 ride with SPM, he competed in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series, where he won the 2010 championship.
"Ric Peterson and I are very pleased to have Mikhail back for a second season with SPM,” team owner Sam Schmidt said. “He was extremely fast in 2014 and we think, given that year of experience and last year competing in ELMS, he will be able to contribute significantly to the program in 2016."
Piers Phillips, who last week was announced as SPM’s new general manager, believes the combination of James Hinchcliffe and Aleshin gives the team two very fast drivers.
"Having someone of Mikhail’s ability and experience returning to the team for 2016 is a huge plus for us here at SPM,” Phillips said. “He has undoubted speed, and it is now our job to turn that speed into regular top-five results and a strong championship finish. Mikhail is someone who I have followed throughout his career in Europe. We are delighted to have him back in the SPM family and looking forward to a great 2016."