Mikhail Aleshin rumored to be out of IndyCar with funding issues

Mikhail Aleshin may not compete in the 2017 IndyCar season as rumors have emerged that funds have fallen through for his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports entry.

One of the Verizon IndyCar Series‘ most promising drivers may not return this season due to an 11th-hour issue with sponsorship funds. Mikhail Aleshin, who was expected to come back for his fourth season with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, is now not so certain due to a lack of sponsorship funds according to a new report from Racer.

Aleshin’s No. 7 entry is primarily sponsored by Russian-backed SMP Racing, which already had experienced hurdles paying for the car in 2015 with sanctions then in place between the United States and Russia. While that issue was resolved in time for Aleshin to compete in last year’s IndyCar season it appears finances are a problem for him yet again.

It’s a disappointment for a series that’s seen numerous drivers fall by the wayside over money. It was money that led Carlos Munoz to be replaced by Takuma Sato at Andretti Autosport, money that kept Gabby Chaves from returning after he was named IndyCar’s 2015 Rookie of the Year and money that now threatens to keep Aleshin from capitalizing on some of his career-best results.

He came in second in the 2016 ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway for his second podium finish, and earned three other results within the Top 10. He also finished 15th in the championship standings, a career best.

Neither Aleshin nor Schmidt Peterson Motorsports owner Sam Schmidt have publicly spoken about this wrinkle yet, but if it’s real and is serious, then it affects many different parts of the IndyCar racing world.

SPM would be hard-pressed to find another full-time driver on such short notice; testing for the 2017 season starts in just under a month on Feb. 10, and the first race of the campaign is March 12. That’s not a lot of time for a driver to get acclimated, let alone be ready to compete, and if you think the first race of the season isn’t important just ask Will Power.

Especially with SPM having shuttered their Indy Lights program last year all their eggs are in the IndyCar basket, and they’re focusing on delivering results. Having to switch drivers at almost the last minute isn’t conducive to delivering results.

IndyCar would lose a promising talent in Aleshin, who turns 30 this year and is the only Russian driver in the league. He could easily have won a race this year if not for some bad breaks, so next season is expected to be the one in which he may finally turn the corner into bona fide contender. But he would have to be in the car first.

With the combination of Aleshin and James Hinchcliffe, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports was looking set for a breakout 2017 season — and now Aleshin might not be in the picture anymore. Let’s hope for IndyCar’s sake that he is.

Fingers are certainly crossed at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports that Mikhail Aleshin can resolve his sponsorship-funding issues, but fans should keep their eye on this development as well. Aleshin has steadily improved on the track a

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