Photo Credit: Racing Nation
Mikhail Aleshin, the 29-year-old Russian who drove in the Verizon IndyCar Series for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM) last season, could possibly be unable to return to the team for the upcoming 2017 season because of a budgetary shortfall due to sponsorship. After being listed as returning to SPM since October, it now appears unlikely that Aleshin will return to the series next season, creating another vacant seat to be filled before the 2017 season opener on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, on Sunday, March 12th.
Aleshin is still a candidate to drive the #7 Honda-powered car that he drove both last season and in the 2014 season, but if the budgetary shortfall is not resolved, there are plenty of other notable drivers that could take his place. Names like Sage Karam, Jack Harvey, Gabby Chaves, Jack Hawksworth, and RC Enerson come to mind as potential replacements for Aleshin if he is unable to secure the seat and join James Hinchcliffe as the other driver for SPM.
In the 2016 season, Aleshin returned to the Verizon IndyCar Series full-time after a severe crash in 2014 at the season finale at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, and a budgetary shortfall kept him sidelined for all but one race in the 2015 season. He finished the 2016 season in a career-high 15th place in the championship standings after claiming his first career Verizon IndyCar Series pole at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania, and matching his career-high race finish of 2nd place at Pocono as well.