Mikhail Aleshin salvages top 10 after tumultuous Road America weekend

Matt Fraver/INDYCAR

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

When the Verizon IndyCar Series (VICS) paddock first arrived at Road America, Mikhail Aleshin wasn’t even in the United States.

Given that, and his issues throughout the weekend, the Russian’s 10th-place performance in Sunday’s KOHLER Grand Prix is a result his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM) team is content to take.

The weekend was expected to be business as usual for Aleshin, who was set to return for the Verizon IndyCar Series race one week after running the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans for SMP Racing. But unanticipated immigration problems in France kept the 30-year-old from arriving in Wisconsin in time for Friday’s two practice sessions.

The sudden news left SPM and Aleshin both in a scramble. While Aleshin and French officials worked on solutions for his visa issues so he could return to America, SPM brought in DTM driver Robert Wickens to drive their No. 7 Honda in Friday’s practice sessions.

For a time, it appeared Wickens might even make his VICS debut. But in the end, Aleshin was able to return to the cockpit, flying from France to Chicago and driving the final stretch to Road America – albeit without his baggage.

Saturday proved difficult for Aleshin. With minimal track time, the fourth-year VICS driver qualified just 19th, setting himself up for an uphill battle at a facility that rewards track position.

The KOHLER Grand Prix brought a long 55 laps for Aleshin – he even went off-course at one point while battling Graham Rahal.

But in the end, the VICS’ first Russian driver was able to rebound for a hard-fought 10th-place result.

After the circumstances that preceded it, Aleshin was happy to have salvaged a respectable finish.

“I think the Lucas Oil SPM team did a great job to bring the No. 7 car in the top 10,” Aleshin said. “I had nice pit stops and the car balance was fine. Today’s result is not bad at all considering the problems we dealt with yesterday and with missing practice on Friday. It was a pretty intense race for me.”

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