Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Mikhail Aleshin Part Ways

Mikhail Aleshin
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced today that Mikhail Aleshin will not return to drive the No. 7 Lucas Oil Honda for the remainder of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season. The first Russian driver in Indy car racing will instead continue working with his sponsor, SMP Racing, in sports-car racing.

The INDYCAR team issued a statement on the decision:

“Mikhail Aleshin, the Russian SMP Racing program driver, will not be returning to the No. 7 Honda for the remainder of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season,” the statement read. “Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and SMP Racing have mutually agreed that the Russian driver will focus on the design and development of the new BR1 LMP1 car.

“Aleshin is the key SMP Racing driver working on the new LMP1 prototype BR1 which shall be ready for its first test session in the near future. Designed by Russian company BR Engineering, in cooperation with Dallara, the BR1 of SMP Racing team will debut in FIA World Endurance Championship in 2018.”

Aleshin, 30, has driven in 46 Verizon IndyCar Series races for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports since 2014, with a best finish of second place twice (Houston-2 in 2014 and Pocono in 2016). He is 16th in this year’s standings with a best finish of sixth in the first race of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear doubleheader weekend.

The team did not name a replacement driver for the remainder of the 2017 season.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Schmidt Peterson Racing Recaps Mid-Ohio

James Hinchcliffe
James Hinchcliffe
No. 5 Arrow Electronics Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
“Really disappointing day for us. We didn’t have the quickest car in traffic, so we put ourselves on a strategy to run in clean air, and it was working. We got ourselves to seventh place after that last round of stops, after being back in 12th after the first stint. Credit to the Arrow Electronics boys in the pits and the car – in clean air it was strong. But then we found ourselves, with that yellow, on the wrong tires, and I burned a lot of push-to-pass to get ourselves up there, so we were really just a sitting duck on that restart with wrong tires and no push-to-pass. It’s unfortunate that yellow [flag] fell, it really screwed our race. We were strong in certain conditions, we played our hand the best we could to put ourselves in a good spot and unfortunately the yellow just screwed us. We chalk it up to experience and move on to the next one.”

Mikhail Aleshin
Mikhail Aleshin
No. 7 Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
“I think today was a good race for the Lucas Oil car. We had a good strategy and good pace, it’s just very difficult to overtake at this track. I think we had really good pace in the race, and that’s really what is so important. Next time we need to qualify a bit better, and we know what we need to do for that. The guys had really great pit stops and worked so well to put together what ended up being a good finish.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Schmidt Peterson Racing Had Mixed Results At The Kohler Grand Prix

James Hinchcliffe
James Hinchcliffe
No. 5 Arrow Electronics Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
“Obviously not the day we were hoping for. In the race we settled into a three-stop strategy, like so many others. After our second stop on the restart, Max [Chilton] and I were on [Firestone alternate] reds and Will [Power] was on [Firestone primary] blacks. Max went for a gap into Turn 3 and I went with him and got into the side of Will; it broke the front wing and I honestly thought it broke the front suspension. I crawled my way around into pit lane and we found some bent parts, managed to get going again, but at that point we were already a lap down. On a track like this it’s tough to make that back. We’ve had a couple of bad results the last few races – this is the only one that was on us, other than that it’s really just been bad luck. Hopefully we can get all this behind us and we can have a good result at Iowa in the Arrow car.”

Mikhail Aleshin

Mikhail Aleshin
No. 7 Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
“I think the Lucas Oil SPM team did a great job to bring the No. 7 car in the top 10. I had nice pit stops and the car balance was fine. Today’s result is not bad at all considering the problems we dealt with yesterday and with missing practice on Friday. It was a pretty intense race for me.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Schmidt Peterson Racing Recaps The Rainguard Water Sealers 600

James Hinchcliffe
James Hinchcliffe
No. 5 Arrow Electronics Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
“We had a run on TK [Tony Kanaan] and he had plenty of room on the left, but he just came to the right. If you look at the replay, he comes all the way from the white line to the middle of the racetrack, just pinched me into Mikhail [Aleshin]. Either his spotter didn’t tell him we were three wide or what, but I couldn’t go anywhere, I was sandwiched in the middle. I was not expecting him to do that; Tony has more experience in this kind of pack racing than anybody. I went wheel to wheel with him last year for the win and nine times out of 10 would do that all day long, but for whatever reason he wasn’t playing very nice today and wrecked a lot of good equipment.

It turned into way more of a pack race than we’ve had here in a long time, which unfortunately, leads to situations like this. A lot of good cars taken out, but I’m glad everybody’s okay. We had such a good car. We had that penalty after I looped it in pit lane, but then we raced our way back to the lead lap; we were side-by-side with Will [Power] and we had the car in the top five. The Arrow Electronics car was just incredible and that last pit stop from the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports guys was just great, it’s just a super frustrating way to end a day that was going as well as that in this fashion. I just feel bad for the Arrow Electronics boys because we had two good cars that got taken out today.”

Mikhail Aleshin
Mikhail Aleshin
No. 7 Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
“Well the thing is I was much faster than the guys on the lower line. I thought we were all going to stay together up there, but I think James [Hinchcliffe] touched [Tony] Kanaan – I don’t know the reason for that… then we basically all crashed. I thought we could make it three lanes up there. I didn’t understand what was going on, because I gave space to them, but something was going on with James and Kanaan. In the end, you know, what we have is two great cars that ended up in the wall and that’s just dumb. It’s stupid and I’m very disappointed in regards to the shape of the team this weekend. We could have been in the top spot today.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Schmidt Peterson Racing Recaps Their IndyCar Grand Prix

James Hinchcliffe

INDYCAR Grand Prix
 

 

James Hinchcliffe
No. 5 Arrow Electronics Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
“It was not the best weekend for the Arrow crew. We rolled off the truck with a car that finished on the podium at this track last year. It’s so tough because every race this year, our strength has been rolling off the truck with a good car. In a series that’s so competitive, and we have such little track time, that’s the key because it’s really tough to bounce back from a bad first session, and unfortunately that’s what we had. We picked off a few spots in the first stint, but ultimately we got stuck behind [Simon] Pagenaud… Unfortunately we got stuck behind him and that allowed other cars to close in and that led to a chain reaction of events which brought us to a pretty disappointing result in 13th. We’re going to try and bounce back from this; we’ve got the two biggest weekends of the year coming up and we’re going to try and hit it out of the park.”

Mikhail Aleshin
No. 7 Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda
“That was definitely not the day we were hoping for. Our car was just difficult to drive this weekend… Anyway today is finished, this race is finished and the car is in one piece. We’ll learn from today and move forward.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

JR Hildebrand Breaks A Bone In His Left Hand At Long Beach

Image result for jr hildebrand

Ed Carpenter Racing driver JR Hildebrand suffered a broken bone in his left hand during an incident at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Hildebrand was entering the first turn on Lap 85 when his No. 21 Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet made contact with the No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda driven by Mikhail Aleshin.

According to INDYCAR medical director Dr. Geoffrey Billows, Hildebrand will be re-evaluated upon his return to Indianapolis this week and has not been cleared to return to Verizon IndyCar Series competition.

“At the end of the race, we all were bunched back up because of that last yellow,” Hildebrand explained. “I was on reds and had a little bit for at least the handful of cars in front of us. On the last lap, I was making a move on Mikhail Aleshin and I could tell he was struggling. I was out of push-to-pass so I was trying to make a proper, full-out pass down he front straightaway. He had been starting to move over, not a major blocking maneuver but enough to assert his line. He hit the brake a lot earlier than I was expecting and I ended up running into the back of him. In doing so, it ripped the steering wheel from my hand and I ended up tweaking it. At the end of the day, to come home with an 11th place finish isn’t terrible. It is a bummer though as we were certainly on our way to finishing in the Top 10 and now we are in a bit of a jam going forward. Hopefully I can get back to it here before the next race.”

About Ed Carpenter Racing
Ed Carpenter Racing (ECR) first entered the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2012. The team is led by IndyCar’s only owner/driver, Ed Carpenter, winner of back-to-back pole positions for the Indianapolis 500 in 2013 and 2014. ECR amassed seven victories and over 20 top five finishes in its first five years. In 2017, Carpenter will compete in all oval events in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet while Spencer Pigot will take over at road and street course races. JR Hildebrand will compete for the Verizon IndyCar Series championship as he races the No. 21 Chevrolet throughout the entire season. More information on Ed Carpenter Racing may be found at www.edcarpenterracing.com. 

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Could Vickers Be In The Running For An Indy 500 Seat?

Brian Vickers

The race to land one of the most coveted open seats for the Indy 500 is winding down as a NASCAR driver, an Indy veteran, a new team, and the most recent Rookie of the Year chase the third Schmidt Peterson Motorsports entry.

RACER has learned that current Stewart-Haas Racing Sprint cup driver Brian Vickers, who is filling in for the injured Tony Stewart, nine-time Indy 500 starter Townsend Bell, the new Grace Autosport team, and 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series/Indy 500 Rookie of The Year, Gabby Chavez, are in the running for SPM’s available Dallara DW12-Honda.

“Those four are on the list, and we’d really like to run any of those people,” Schmidt told RACER.

Among the four options, Bell has the most experience with the team, having raced for SPM at Indy from 2010-2012 with a best finish of ninth. The Grace team, owned by Beth Paretta, has Katherine Legge as its driver for the 500, and from her two starts at the 500, the most recent came in a last-minute deal with SPM in 2013 where she qualified 33rd and placed 26th. Grace is also known to be in discussion with other teams about partnering for the 500.

Chaves, who was unexpectedly released by Bryan Herta Autosport weeks before the season opener at St Petersburg, has targeted a return for the Indy 500 where he started 26th and finished 16th – on the heels of defending race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay – on his debut last year. The Colombian-American driver stood in for SPM’s Mikhail Aleshin during pre-season testing and earned rave reviews from the team for his immediate pace and chassis feedback.

With the allure of the 100th Indy 500 in mind, more first-timers like Vickers could try to make the race, although according to Schmidt, running a driver with no recent open-wheel experience on the sport’s biggest stage could be a stumbling block.

“I’d think Brian is the least likely only because he hasn’t done it before and we’re unsure if he’ll still be driving for Tony [Stewart], so with that unknown, it’s hard to figure out the costs and the logistics,” Schmidt said. “Granted, he’s very experienced and very mature, so I’m sure he’d get the job done, but I’m not sure we need any distractions with a rookie. He’s an option, though, and we aren’t ruling him out. I know how badly he wants to be in the race. We’re still trying to find money for all of them, they’re all trying to find money, but it’s not completely there.”

Whoever reaches the funding finish line will partner with full-time SPM drivers James Hinchcliffe and Aleshin. Schmidt expects to have a deal done before the month of May arrives, but doubts it will happen in a timely manner.

“We’ve been working on all three cars and think we have a good program, but we can’t do [the third car] for free,” he said. “We don’t have any internal sponsorship, and I find it amazing that it’s the 100th running of the Indy 500 and nobody seems to have all the money they need. It’s frustrating.”

It is just about two months til the green flag drops for the 100th running of the Indy 500.  This last domino in the Indy 500 seat puzzle will be interesting to see where it falls and fits in!

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!