Schmidt signs Mikhail Aleshin to second IndyCar

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IndyCar has its second confirmed rookie for the 2014 season, with Russian driver Mikhail Aleshin, 26, set in the second Schmidt Peterson Motorsports entry.

The entry is likely to be – and this will be confusing – the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM) with SMP Racing No. 55 Honda. Also, Aleshin has had personal sponsorship from Russian oil company Lukoil previously, and Schmidt’s team has had Lucas Oil here in the U.S. for 10 years. Go figure.

Naming conflicts aside, Aleshin’s a decent shoe whose biggest career accolade was winning the 2010 World Series by Renault championship. That field included future Formula One drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne, and former Schmidt Indy Lights driver Esteban Guerrieri.

Aleshin’s open-wheel experience also includes Formula Renault, A1GP, GP2, GP3 and the Superleague Formula. He also raced sports cars for SMP in the Blancpain Endurance Series last year.

“The last two or three years I’ve been looking in this direction and at one point in the middle of the 2013 season I decided that I just needed to change something,” Aleshin said in a release. “SMP Racing, my main sponsor, decided it would be a good idea to try something in the U.S. because there are no Russian drivers at this level, and considering the experience I have we thought it would all come together (in IndyCar).”

Aleshin had his first test in what had been Tristan Vautier’s car earlier this week at Sebring, and was within several tenths of Simon Pagenaud.

“(Sebring) was my first test in an IndyCar and things were much different than what I’m used to inside the car,” Aleshin said. “In Europe there are different standards, but I like (the IndyCar) already, it’s really fun to drive.”

The ripple effect here affects Vautier, obviously, and Schmidt’s 2013 Indy Lights champion Sage Karam. Although all signs pointed toward a return for Vautier as recently as Sonoma, and even in press conferences at Fontana, the loss of primary sponsor HP on Pagenaud’s car is a significant hit to the team’s bottom line.

Vautier, too, would not have the same budget to bring for 2014. He had a revolving door of sponsors on his car this year, and the scholarship funding from Mazda as the defending Indy Lights champion shifts to Karam. Karam does have available budget to bring to a team and is targeting a full-season ride; Vautier, though, may be headed to sports car racing after just one full season in IndyCar.

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.