IndyCar: Russian rookie Aleshin continuing to gain confidence

2 Comments

When Mikhail Aleshin was announced as the driver for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ second car over the off-season, some fans weren’t sure what to make of him.

But eight races into his inaugural Verizon IndyCar Series season, the Russian rookie is changing their minds with some steady performances.

Aleshin is still looking for his first IndyCar podium, but has quietly put together some decent runs. Attrition helped him pick up a sixth-place finish at Long Beach, but he has earned back-to-back sevenths in the last two races (Detroit Dual 2 and Texas Motor Speedway).

The latter effort is particular noteworthy considering that Aleshin had never contended with such a track like the high-banked oval at TMS. And drives like that are only helping to boost his confidence.

“It’s good that I can fight with many of the other drivers that have raced here for years and years,” he told the Associated Press while testing last week at Iowa Speedway.

“Sometimes, be on the same level with them. Sometimes, even faster. All that makes you a bit more optimistic.”

A bit of optimism is always nice to have for any driver, but especially so for a rookie that’s battling with IndyCar’s incredibly deep field of competitors.

Prior to joining IndyCar, Aleshin was a veteran of multiple open-wheel leagues including Formula Renault, GP2, and GP3. He’s also had experience in European sports car racing.

But to him, IndyCar has been his biggest challenge to date.

“It’s definitely one of the toughest, if not the toughest, series that I have raced in,” he added to the AP.

“Every driver here has a history. Every driver has a background. Every driver has won something. I can tell you that it’s very hard to race against them, that’s for sure.”

This season has not been a perfect one for Aleshin, who suffered back-to-back DNFs earlier this year at Barber Motorsports Park and the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, where he was involved in a violent crash at the race’s standing start.

But Aleshin has begun to win himself a modest fan base for his aggressiveness. He may be an IndyCar rookie, but that’s not stopping him from mixing it up with the big names of the sport.

You have to expect that he’ll be pushing the envelope further as he picks up more experience in the summer ahead.

The IndyCars return to action on June 28 and 29 at the Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston. NBCSN will air LIVE coverage on each day starting at 3 p.m. ET.

The Callaway Corvette GT3 is coming to America, in PWC

Photo: Callaway Competition USA
Leave a comment

Pirelli World Challenge has been in need of some good news from a car count standpoint early into this offseason, and receives it Monday with confirmation Callaway Competition will bring its GT3-spec homologated Corvette C7 GT3-R Stateside next season.

The withdrawal of the factory Cadillac Racing program after PWC’s season finale in Sonoma in September has opened the door for the factory-blessed Corvette C7 GT3-R to run in North America, because Cadillac’s ATS-V.R has been the lone GT3-spec car under the General Motors awning for the last three seasons, while the Callaway Corvette has raced only internationally.

Reeves Callaway has been on site at the tail end of the PWC season to survey the opportunity and now a deal has been struck for a factory effort to run next year, before the Callaway Corvette program becomes a customer effort in 2019. This follows the same timeline as Acura did with its new NSX GT3 this year to run it as a factory program in 2017 before shifting to customer efforts in 2018.

“Joining the Pirelli World Challenge has been a long term objective for Callaway Competition,” Callaway said in a release. “Now the field is a roll-call of the most capable sports cars from every country. To do well here, you must beat the best in the world. What better way to showcase our iconic American car?

“For 2018, we will run a Callaway factory team to give us the best chance of continuing the championship record the Corvette has achieved in international competition. For 2019, we will not race against our customers, but provide high-quality support to them in the tradition of other manufacturer customer racing support programs.”

“For several years fans have asked when they would see the Callaway Corvette GT3 run in the Pirelli World Challenge,” added Greg Gill, President and CEO of Pirelli World Challenge. “The wait is over and we are very pleased to announce the arrival of the Callaway Corvette GT3 for the 2018 season.”

The Callaway Competition USA Corvette C7 GT3-R will be unveiled and both full season drivers announced at the Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis on December 7 at the Pirelli World Challenge booth. Following the unveiling event, the car will be on display for the remainder of the trade show. Details of the presentation will be announced in the coming weeks.

Callaway’s confirmation comes amidst the likely drawdown of potentially nine or 10 cars that raced in PWC’s GT and GTA ranks either all season or most of it in 2017, among at least five manufacturers. That’s not to say those losses can’t be recouped elsewhere on the grid, over the next several months before the St. Petersburg season opener in March.

PWC will hold its annual state of the series and competitor meeting to finalize the next year’s plans at the PRI show as well.