Aleshin gets his work visa sorted, looks set for St. Pete

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Mikhail Aleshin has missed the final two preseason tests before the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season owing to last-minute visa issues, but appears set to go for next week’s season opener at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Aleshin posted a tweet this morning with his updated work visa, although he has since deleted it.

Assuming all checks out with the process, it would mean the Russian will be back – as planned – for his second full season in IndyCar in the No. 7 SMP Racing Honda for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

Aleshin spoke highly of his return to IndyCar when I caught up with him at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, where he wound up qualifying fastest in Prototype and started on the overall pole in the No. 37 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR01 Nissan after the starting grid order was rest by class, owing to rain conditions.

“For me, I didn’t have any real issues to get back and be in the top-10 in IndyCar (at Sonoma last year),” he said. “It wasn’t an easy thing to do, but it was not harder than when I did it the first year, for sure.”

The visa confirmation for Aleshin would means that for the second time in a handful of weeks, a potential opportunity has slipped through Gabby Chaves’ fingers, but nonetheless the Colombian American should be available on standby at a moment’s notice, as he was for these two tests at Phoenix and Sebring.

Chaves said he plans to be at most, if not all, IndyCar events to stay noticed and is working on finalizing his Indianapolis 500 program within the next couple weeks.