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Mikhail Aleshin official at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports for 2017 IndyCar campaign

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Mikhail Aleshin’s return to Schmidt Peterson Motorsports for the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season is now official following an announcement from Russian backers SMP Racing.

Aleshin, 29, made his IndyCar debut in 2014 with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and returned for a second campaign in 2016, scoring his first pole position in qualifying for the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono in August.

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports co-owner Sam Schmidt said back in October that Aleshin would be returning for 2017, but the deal was not made official until Wednesday during an SMP Racing press conference.

“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 [Hinchcliffe] and the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports crew, I will push hard to bring more poles and hopefully victories in 2017.”

“We are thrilled to have Mikhail back for 2017. We know he is capable of winning races and competing for the championship,” Schmidt added.

“This also means we have maintained continuity across drivers, engineering and team member staffing which is critical for success.”

Aleshin’s return marks the first time since Schmidt Peterson Motorsports expanded to a two-car team that it has continued with the same line-up into a new season.

Aleshin and Hinchcliffe will hit the track at Sonoma Raceway on February 7 for a private test, followed by the first collective test at Phoenix International Raceway later that week.

The new Verizon IndyCar Series season kicks off in St. Petersburg on March 12.

Red Bull Air Race: Yoshi Muroya joins Sato as Japanese champs at Indy

Photo: Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool
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Takuma Sato isn’t the only major Japanese athlete to take home top honors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year. Countryman Yoshihide Muroya joined him in that on Sunday after winning Red Bull Air Race at IMS, and the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in the process.

Fittingly, the 101st Indianapolis 500 champion was there on site to join him in the celebration.

Muroya flew with a track-record run in the final and erased the four-point deficit to points leader Martin Sonka. The record run came after a disappointing qualifying effort of 11th in the 14-pilot field in the Master Class.

A day after the win, Muroya joined Sato in heading to Sato’s new Verizon IndyCar Series team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s, Indianapolis-based shop.

A few social posts from Muroya’s victory and the subsequent celebration are below.

CHECKING OUT EACH OTHER’S RIDES

ASTLES BREAKS THOUGH AS WELL

Muroya wasn’t alone among big winners at the Speedway. In the Challenger Class, Melanie Astles of France became the first woman to win a major race at IMS, and is the first female winner in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.

Nine women have competed in the Indianapolis 500 (Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James, Sarah Fisher, Danica Patrick, Milka Duno, Simona de Silvestro, Pippa Mann, Ana Beatriz, Katherine Legge) and Mann is the first woman to have been on the pole position at IMS, having done so for the Freedom 100 in 2010 in Indy Lights.

Photo: Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool