Mikhail Aleshin opens up on 2014 IndyCar season in Russian interview


In a revealing, candid interview with Autosport.ru, Russian driver Mikhail Aleshin looked back on his debut Verizon IndyCar Series season and some of the highs and lows that punctuated his campaign.

Aleshin drove the No. 7 SMP Racing Honda for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and ended 16th in the points standings with a best finish of second at Houston race two.

He reflected on his adaptation to America, to ovals, and to the IndyCar Series.

“(It was) a lot of unusual (feelings) and even scarier than anything that I have experienced in the race before,” Aleshin said of ovals.

“Simply incomparable feeling – a fantastic speed and behavior of the machine remains the same: or understeer, or, most worryingly, the excess. Simply because of the speed of all this is perceived differently, and a lot of emotions.

“I suddenly liked ovals. Many on the team to worry about it and told me that all the people of Europe can be divided into two parts: one immediately ovals like, other – just not. If the second – it is bad, because you have no way you can get used to them. But to me they really liked. This is totally different, but very interesting.”

Playing off of that, Aleshin looked back at Pocono with fondness. He ended seventh but thought fourth was possible with a different strategy.

While Aleshin’s fearlessness played to his benefit at the majority of oval races, a rare mistake occurred during night practice at Auto Club Speedway. His spin led to the year’s most scary looking accident in IndyCar, and mercifully, Aleshin emerged from the accident without life-threatening injuries.

He reflected on that, as well.

“It was unpleasant, what to say,” he admitted. “But I felt no fear – just looked like an approaching car, Charlie Kimball and thought. After all the damage I got from the fact that he flew me in the side. So, I thought – “What if he will be able to turn away.” After all, if my car just flew into the wall, I quietly went to the cockpit, went with their feet – most likely, the team even managed to restore everything to start.

“But he did not turn away, I could not, at the same time breaking my monocoque completely broke down the wall near his body. It is clear that he, too, was driving fast and could not do anything because you have seen everything at the last moment, and at this speed and at this distance to do something too late.”

Those two points and more are all summed up in the interview, which is good reading.

It makes you reflect on a driver who was initially dismissed by some as merely a ride-buyer taking another seat on the grid, but instead made a prominent impact on the 2014 season. It’s doubtful he’ll return though, due to funding issues for next season.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.