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Aleshin set for return to Texas, which was friendly to him in 2014

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The word Texas is derived from a Native American word “tejas,” meaning friend.

And Tejas was friendly to Russian rookie Mikhail Aleshin in his first IndyCar season in 2014.

“I’m very happy to be going back to Texas Motor Speedway,” Aleshin said prior to the Firestone 600. “Last time we did really good there and it was my first top-10 finish in IndyCar [on an oval].”

The next weekend, he discovered Texas Motor Speedway was not the only venue in the state that could be friendly.

Heading South, he learned that the temporary street circuit in Houston could also be hospitable when he finished runner-up to teammate Simon Pagenaud in the second race of the Shell-Pennzoil Grand Prix.

Injuries from an accident and sponsorship problems kept him from attending Texas last year. For that matter, it kept him from all but one race during the IndyCar season, so Aleshin headed to Europe to race with SMP Racing in the European Le Mans Series.

MotorSportsTalk editor Tony DiZinno caught up with Aleshin in Le Mans, France last June, when Aleshin was due to make his debut in the 24-hour classic. He’ll run there again this year, too, next week.

On the anniversary of that first oval top-10, it was time to reminisce about his strong run in the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports car.

“Texas was fun,” Aleshin said at the time.

“One day I’m gonna come back there for sure. I’m gonna kick some ass.”

While Aleshin has positive memories about that distant race, he is going to need to put his more recent past behind him if he wants to redden the competition’s posterior.

“We didn’t have a great weekend in Detroit, so I’m looking forward to be back on track in the No. 7 SMP Racing and DOOM car so we can get some good points for the championship standings,” Aleshin concluded.

He finished 15th and 17th in the two races at Belle Isle Park in Detroit.

Follow: @FantasyRace


Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans

LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.