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.