By Josh Farmer, IndyCar Reporter
Mikhail Aleshin will return for a third year at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
The 29-year-old from Moscow, Russia will return to the No. 7 SMP Racing Honda alongside James Hinchcliffe for the 2017 season.
“Thanks to both the SMP Racing program and our American team, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, I am to keep fighting for even better results this season in IndyCar,” Aleshin said. “With the Russian flag on my car, and with James and the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports crew, I will push hard to bring more poles and hopefully victories in 2017.”
Last year marked his return to the series after a year hiatus in 2015 due to sanctions against Aleshin’s backers at SMP Bank. He ended the year 15th in the standings, just two places behind Hinchcliffe. He ended the year strong by capturing a pole for the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway. He led 87 laps before finishing second to Will Power, matching his best IndyCar finish.
He also led a race-high 33 laps at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, but a late race pit incident ruined his shot at victory.
Team owner Sam Schmidt noted in October that Aleshin was likely going to return, but the deal was not made official until SMP Racing made the announcement this morning.
This also marks the first time that Schmidt Peterson Motorsports will have the same driver lineup in consecutive years.
“We are thrilled to have Mikhail back for 2017,” Schmidt Peterson Motorsports co-owner Sam Schmidt said. “We know he is capable of winning races and competing for the championship. This also means we have maintained continuity across drivers, engineering and team member staffing, which is critical for success.”
Aleshin and Hinchcliffe will return tot the cockpit in a private team test at the Sonoma Raceway on February 7 before heading to the Phoenix International Raceway on February 10-11 for a mass series test.