While some drivers are strong on ovals, Mikhail Aleshin has not been one of those this season to date, as his struggles continued on Sunday at Iowa Speedway.
After qualifying sixth, the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver made his way up to the fourth position, all while battling a loose racecar. The conditions caught up with him, though, as the No. 7 Honda snapped around on Lap 58, backing into the wall. Just like that, his race was over, and he was credited with a 21st-place finish.
“We had a loose car all day,” he said. “I was just holding for my life there the whole first stint. I didn’t know how many saves they showed, but it was every lap. That last lap there – it just got loose, and I couldn’t save it. It was just impossible to react.”
The scenario has been a common occurrence for the Russian this year, as the same thing happened at Phoenix International Raceway. Starting from seventh, he got loose on the opening lap, spinning around and collecting several of his competitors with him. In four oval events this year, he has failed to contend for the race win, crashing mid-race at Texas after a three-wide battle with teammate James Hinchcliffe and Tony Kanaan, and racing mid-pack all race long at Indianapolis en route to a 13th-place finish.
Aleshin has proven in the past that he can race well on the oval tracks, as noted with two top-fives in five races last season, including a runner-up at Pocono Raceway. However, continuing to push the envelope to the very edge has proven to be too much, with it costing him dearly in these events.
Compounding his issues is the fact that his team has failed to perform this year with just three top-10’s in 11 races. Aleshin’s return to Schmidt for 2017 came late in the off-season due to uncertainty surrounding funding. If he does not pick up the pace in the second half, he may be out a ride especially with the level of talent waiting in the wings currently racing in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, highlighted by Matheus Leist, Santiago Urrutia, Kyle Kaiser, and more.
Aleshin will get his next opportunity for a top-10 on the streets of Toronto on July 16, where he placed sixth last season.
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