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Harvey To Drive for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced on Monday that Jack Harvey would run the final two races of the Verizon IndyCar Series season behind the wheel of their No. 7 entry.

For Harvey, the events at Watkins Glen International and Sonoma Raceway will mark his second and third IndyCar Series’ starts, respectively. He made his debut in this year’s Indianapolis 500, scoring a 31st-place finish for Michael Shank Racing and Andretti Autosport.

“It’s obviously a really exciting time for me, and I’m really pleased to rejoin everyone here at SPM,” Harvey noted. “We had a lot of success together in Indy Lights, and I’m excited to be back with so many familiar faces. I’m really looking forward to getting on track at Watkins Glen, and although I haven’t driven there, it’s definitely been a bucket list track and one that I’ve been looking forward to driving on even before I came to America. I’m really excited to continue this journey with AutoNation and Sirius XM – I wouldn’t be racing this season without them. I can’t thank them enough for their continued support, and I hope to be able (to) bring home two solid results for the end of the year.”

The United Kingdom native drove for SPM in Indy Lights, scoring six wins with 18 podiums. 

“We are very pleased to welcome Jack back to the team for our final two events of the season,” SPM General Manager Piers Phillips commented. “Jack’s done a great job for the team throughout his Indy Lights career, and we have been looking at ways of incorporating him into our IndyCar program, so it’s been wonderful to see it come to fruition. We look forward to finishing out the year with he and James and hopefully with some results up front.”

Mikhail Aleshin was supposed to race the full campaign this year but was let go before the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway so he could “focus on the design and development of the new BR1 LMP1 car,” according to the team’s statement. Sebastian Saavedra ran the 2.5-mile triangle in his place and will be behind the wheel this weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park. 

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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News Open Wheel

Saavedra Returns to Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

Sebastian Saavedra is getting another chance with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports as the organization announced he will drive the No. 7 Lucas Oil Honda at Pocono Raceway and Gateway Motorsports Park.

“I am very excited to be back with the SPM organization,” Saavedra said. “It’s another late call to jump in, but I take it with pride after a promising start of our relationship in Toronto. Looking forward to a challenging event as the ‘Tricky Triangle’ can be, and support (James) Hinchcliffe in his pursuit of championship points. I’m thankful to my sponsors and my continued relationship with AFS Inc.”

The ABC Supply 500 this weekend marks Saavedra’a second start with the team in 2017, following the Honda Indy Toronto where he placed 11th. He will once again be paired with race engineer Blair Perschbacher, with the pair having previous experience from Indy Lights.

“Delighted to have Sebastian back with the SPM team following what was a very encouraging performance at the Toronto event,” said Piers Phillips, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ general manager. “He is experienced and competent, and I have no doubt he will contribute to the overall performance of the team. We’re heading to Pocono full of confidence as a team and we’re looking forward to hopefully seeing Sebastian and James at the front of the pack.”

 

The opportunity for the Colombian comes virtue of his longtime partner, AFS Racing, who will sponsor him for both events.

 “It’s great to team up with (team co-owner) Sam (Schmidt) after the great rivalry we had in the (Indy) Lights championship,” said Gary Peterson, president and CEO of AFS Inc. “After Sebastian’s positive performance in Toronto, the next two events will be an opportunity to show his strength on ovals and that he is a great candidate for the 2018 season with SPM.”

The pair of events will mark his 64th and 65th series starts, with Saavedra having posted a previous best finish of 15th at Pocono.

Beyond Gateway, it has not been announced who will drive the No. 7 entry following the team releasing Mikhail Aleshin so he can “focus on the design and development of the new BR1 LMP1 car.”

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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IndyCar Open Wheel

Mikhail Aleshin Parts Ways with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

After a year filled with speculation, Mikhail Aleshin and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced on Saturday that the pair were parting ways immediately.

“Mikhail Aleshin, the Russian SMP Racing program driver, will not be returning to the No. 7 Honda for the remainder of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season,” Schmidt Peterson Motorsports released in a statement. “Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and SMP Racing have mutually agreed that the Russian driver will focus on the design and development of the new BR1 LMP1 car. 

“Aleshin is the key SMP Racing driver working on the new LMP1 prototype BR1 which shall be ready for its first test session in the near future. Designed by Russian company BR Engineering, in cooperation with Dallara, the BR1 of SMP Racing team will debut in FIA World Endurance Championship in 2018.”

Aleshin was ranked in 16th in the points with three top-10’s, despite the missing the Honda Indy Toronto, with a best finish of sixth in the first race of the Chevrolet Detroit Grnad Prix presented by Lear doubleheader weekend. 

Notably, there has always been questions surrounding Aleshin’s status, beginning with his return to SPM coming late in the 2017 pre-season due to uncertainty surrounding funding. He then missed practice at Road America due to visa issues following the 24 Hours of LeMans, and missed Toronto for an unannounced reason. 

A replacement driver for the remainder of the season has yet to be named. Speculation points towards Robert Wickens, who filled in for Aleshin at Road America when the Russian missed practice. Other possible drivers include Zach Veach and Santiago Urrutia. 

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Commentary Open Wheel

EMBURY’S OUTLOOK: Schmidt’s Russia Experiment Over?

Things may be in alteration mode at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports looking towards the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

While the future of the popular Canadian driver James Hinchcliffe appears set, events last weekend before the Honda Indy Toronto have created question marks about who may drive the second entry next year.

Based on the success enjoyed in the second half of 2016, including a pole position and near victory at the Pocono 500, the future appeared to be a lock regarding the services of third-year Russian pilot Mikhail Aleshin. Things though, look to have changed as the 2017 campaign has rolled on.

After earning four top-six finishes last season, the 30-year old from Moscow has only one this year, coming in the first race at Detroit. Adding to that is concerns regarding sponsorship cropping up this past week. After finishing 21st at Iowa Speedway, Aleshin was replaced in the No. 7 SPM Honda for Toronto by Colombian Sebastian Saavedra.

Funding is believed to be the primary cause for the driver change. For the Russian, this is not the first time money has a red flag concerning main backer SMP. Problems related to the supporter prevented Aleshin from competing in the 2015 season, up until the season finale at Sonoma, California. So the question in this edition of Embury’s Outlook is now where does team co-owners Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson proceed from here?

Assuming the funding malady can be cured, the team could elect to continue with Aleshin, yet performance numbers indicate an increasingly downward trend since his rookie effort in 2014. In year one, the Moscow-native earned seven top-tens. Following his absence in 2015, that number slipped to only four such placements in 2016, and is down again to only three in 11 appearances this season.

If the down arrow is too much of a deterrent, there are other options such as Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires regular Santiago Urrutia. Reportedly, the current Belardi Racing driver was considered by SPM for a possible third entry for 2017; however, the deal never came about. The 20-year old competed for SPM’s former Indy Lights operation in 2016, winning four races and finishing second in the final championship standings. While the Uruguayan has failed to win an event this season, he has earned four runner-up efforts to date. Also in his corner, the ex-GP3 pilot is backed by Arrow Electronics, who sponsor Hinchcliffe in IndyCar.

Another possible is Saavedra, who has bounced around several different teams since making his IndyCar debut in the 2009 Indianapolis 500. While the Colombian came home with an 11th-place effort last Sunday in Toronto, the veteran has only amassed four top-tens in 60 starts, a resume plagued by DNFs.

Several other relatively new prospects in IndyCar mentioned last week in Embury’s Outlook, including Dale Coyne Racing’s Ed Jones, could also be in the mix if indeed Aleshin does not return. No matter the direction SPM goes in, the team needs to change its fortunes. Despite winning earlier this year at Long Beach, Hinchcliffe ranks tenth on the current points table, while Aleshin was in 16th before Toronto.

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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IndyCar Open Wheel

Saavedra “Very Positive” About Substitute Performance

TORONTO, Ontario — When it was announced at the last minute that Sebastian Saavedra would be behind the wheel of the No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports entry for the Honda Indy Toronto, nobody was unsure what to expect this weekend. After all, Saavedra had not driven the current configuration of aero kit, nor competed on the street circuit in two years.

Though with an 11th-place finish, Saavedra will leave Ontario’s capital city with a smile on his face.

“(It was) very positive,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “It was a successful weekend all together with my teammate Hinch (James Hinchcliffe) being on the podium and us just shy of clinching a top-10. But we brought the No. 7 home without any damage, and saw evolution with the car through the weekend so very happy about it.”

Making his 63rd career Verizon IndyCar Series start, he completed 78 laps across the three practice sessions over the weekend, posting the 15th-quickest lap in Saturday morning’s session after being 21st on Friday. He kept his expectations “realistic,” stating before the event that he wanted to complete every lap and continue developing the car further for the team.

Starting from 20th on the grid, he made his way forward throughout the event, escaping a couple of incidents without any damage while his Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team chose the right strategy en route to 11th.

The reason for Saavedra subbing for Mikhail Aleshin was never announced by the team, with them stating “no further comment” on the situation.

Aleshin has been in this situation before, with a question of sponsorship funding delaying his contract signing for this season. He also has been involved in a couple of massive wrecks through the year, as well, and missed Road America practice due to VISA issues following the 24 Hours of LeMan. As to whether there’s a connection and how the future will shake out is unclear.

For Saavedra, though, it panned out to be a great opportunity that he took advantage of, proving that he can jump in a car and do a decent job. The Colombian stated post-race the team has yet to notify him about any plans, if there are more events to come.

“It’s up in the air,” he said. “I don’t know what will be happening from a week from now. Everything is happening so quickly that we shall see tomorrow what comes.”

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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IndyCar Open Wheel

Honda Indy Toronto Notes: Saavedra Learning; RHR and Rahal Search for More

TORONTO, Ontario — While Team Penske continues to show speed this season, sweeping all three Honda Indy Toronto practices, their competitors are battling hard and trying to figure out the rough bumps of the street course.

Following the three sessions of practice, here are some storylines to keep an eye on leading into the event.

Saavedra The Substitute

Mikhail Aleshin, who typically drives the No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports entry, is instead on the sidelines this week watching as the Honda-team made a driver switch just before the event, stating “no further comment” on the situation.

Sebastian Saavedra will be behind the wheel, reuniting with race engineer Blair Perschbacher, for his 63rd career Verizon IndyCar Series start. Notably, the Columbian’s last appearance on the streets of Toronto came in 2015 with a 16th-place finish.

Saavedra was able to complete 78 laps across the three practices, posting the 15th-quickest lap in Saturday morning’s session. He told POPULAR SPEED afterward that the practices were “very productive.”

“I wouldn’t say good or bad because I was realistic,” he added. “These guys are good at what they do, that’s why they get the paychecks, so I came here with an open mind and here we are. We’re using every lap to get to know the team, the engine, the new aero kit – it’s been three years since my last time here, so it’s going to take awhile.”

Going into the event, he admits that he hasn’t set any goals in stone, but rather focused on helping teammate and hometown driver James Hinchcliffe do as well as possible, and bringing his own entry home cleanly. Notably, Hinchcliffe was fourth quickest in the Saturday session.

Hunting for Success

Following a third-place finish at Iowa Speedway, Ryan Hunter-Reay hopes to keep the momentum going this weekend in Toronto after starting off the year on a rough note. While known for being a front runner, the Andretti Autosport driver only posted two top-10’s in the first 10 races of 2017.

Hunter-Reay commented on Friday that he felt they were “decent,” but knew they had “a lot of work to do tomorrow to be more competitive.” It seems the homework paid off, though, as he was fifth-quickest on Saturday morning.

The American has been successful in Toronto in the past, visiting victory lane in 2012.

Rahal is Confident

After sweeping both events on the street of Detroit, Graham Rahal entered Toronto with confidence as he felt his single-car team could compete for the victory again. Those expectations have been on par so far, as he was sixth quickest on Saturday morning.

“We are pretty competitive here – obviously, we’d like to be a little stronger,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “But we’re in the hunt. Just gotta keep working hard, put our heads down and focus on the end goal which is to qualify and race up front.”

When it comes to catching Team Penske, he says they could be better “a little bit everywhere.”

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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IndyCar Open Wheel

ALESHIN: “I Was Just Holding For My Life There”

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.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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IndyCar Open Wheel

EMBURY: Indiana Jones And The Corner Of Doom?

No folks, yours truly is not involved in a new movie, but just leaving a friendly reminder for the IndyCar Grand Prix.

While the first three editions of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road races have produced plenty of drama, they have one thing in common – first lap chaos wiping out key contenders.

The inaugural event provided the first, and last standing start in history. Pole winner Sebastian Saavedra’s shot at glory was extinguished when his car stalled on the grid. The scenario was only made worse when the Colombian was plowed into from behind by Mikhail Aleshin. Neither driver suffered injuries in the shunt, but it ended the desire for the Verizon IndyCar Series to employ the method used in Formula One.

Going with a traditional rolling green flag in 2015, early trouble still resulted with turn one contact between Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon; the Brazilian went off-course as the Iceman spun. The incident also wreaked havoc among mid-pack runners as Jack Hawksworth and Josef Newgarden were collected, among others. With Dixon and Castroneves out of contention, Will Power cruised to the victory.

Last year, saw another turn one melee as Tony Kanaan and Sebastien Bourdais made contact while looking to gain positions.

The biggest issue at the Speedway is the difference concerning room available on the front straightaway as opposed to turn one. While cars can go three and four-wide on the straight, all must find a way to funnel down to single-file to enter the infield section of the course without incident.

In 2017, things could work out more efficiently. Team Penske teammates Power and Castroneves will lineup on row one, with fellow compatriots Josef Newgarden and Juan Pablo Montoya in the top-five. Considering Roger Penske does not employ team orders, it is expected that those four, plus Simon Pagenaud in eighth, will have the green light to attempt to gain ground on the start. That comes with an asterisk though, as contact must be avoided.

With championship implications starting to show themselves, a first lap issue would be most detrimental for Power, who has suffered from bad breaks in each of the first three road courses. The Australian has also not been immune from an issue in the IndyCar Grand Prix, either. Last year’s performance was ruined via an early race spin trying to hold back Alexander Rossi.

While avoiding dramas on turn one does not ultimately equal a victory, any issue suffered could certainly deny at least one pilot a stab at finding the winner’s circle on Saturday.

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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IndyCar Open Wheel Power Rankings

POWER RANKINGS: Phoenix

Indycar_Power_Rankings_logo

Throughout the season, POPULAR SPEED will rank the top-10 drivers in the Verizon IndyCar Series following each event. Feel free to comment on the story at the POPULAR SPEED Facebook page.

Is Simon Pagenaud returning to his role as the rabbit of the Verizon IndyCar Series? Following his first win of 2017 at Phoenix, the Frenchman is headed toward recasting a sequel. However, coming into the fourth round sixth in the driver rankings, it is impossible to move all the way to the top.

Looking ahead to the 101st Indianapolis 500, POPULAR SPEED has extended our IndyCar team rankings to reflect those who will make their lone appearance at the Brickyard.

Team Rankings:

1. Team Penske (No Change)

Phoenix showed the remainder of the IndyCar grid what a five-car Team Penske could do when the transporters reach Gasoline Alley. Pagenaud won at Phoenix and any of his four teammates, including two-time Indy 500 champion Juan Pablo Montoya, are capable of adding their face to the Borg-Warner Trophy on May 28th.

2. Chip Ganassi Racing (+1)

Honda’s failure to figure out Phoenix derailed Ganassi’s performance in Arizona; however, if the pace the Japanese manufacturer showed last year at Indy can be replicated, good finishes from Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, and Charlie Kimball are possible. It is probably too early to add Max Chilton as a serious challenger though.

3. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (+1)

12th was the best SPM could manage from James Hinchcliffe; but, Mikhail Aleshin’s elimination on the lap puts a question mark on the table. It is tough to move them ahead of DCR based on last weekend, but on potential looking ahead to Indy, Schmidt in the words of former Price is Right host Bob Barker, “is the bigger bargain.”

4. Dale Coyne Racing (-1)

Craig Hampson was right – DCR is not a serious contender on the ovals. Sebastien Bourdais was another victim of the lap one pileup but struggled for pace in practice. Ed Jones also failed to feature, managing an 11th-place finish based on attrition. Not the news Indy 500-only pilot Pippa Mann was hoping to hear.

5. Andretti Autosport (No Change)

Another quadruple retirement for Andretti at Phoenix. The good news is with six cars track side at IMS at least one car should make the finish in the 500. How the rest of the six-pack handles the attention that Fernando Alonso is guaranteed to get this month will guide them to their climax.

6. Ed Carpenter Racing (+1)

Ed Carpenter never made the impact that was hoped for at Phoenix, although J.R. Hildebrand certainly did. A solid qualifying run, coupled with a clean showing in the race netted a third-place finish for the Californian. While it is premature to tag the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Chevrolet as an Indy 500 favorite, the car and its occupant should not be overlooked.

7. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (-1)

Confidence is dropping fast at RLLR, and Graham Rahal is not hiding that things look bleak. A good Indy 500 finish may depend on Oriol Servia at this point.

8. A.J. Foyt Racing (No Change)

The offseason signings Carlos Munoz and Conor Daly continue to be mired among the rear guard. The addition of Zach Veach at the Indy 500 should help, but just when Foyt could not fall any further down the list, here comes the Indy-only invaders.

9. Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (Unranked)

The combination of DRR and Sage Karam can cut it against the big boys. 31st to ninth in 2014 and a brief surge into the top-ten last year justifies their placement as the group most likely to rattle the full-timers club this month.

10. Harding Racing (Unranked)

Team boss Larry Curry is the perfect choice to lead a new operation, and you cannot do much better than hiring Gabby Chaves as the wheelman. Alliance with DRR means perhaps an equal level of performance.

Driver Rankings:

1. Scott Dixon (+1)

Four top-fives in four starts to open 2017. No doubt about it, the Iceman appears ready to challenge for a second Indianapolis 500 win.

2. Josef Newgarden (+1)

The Tennessee-native was not the best of the Penske bunch at Phoenix, but he should be effective when he sets foot at the corner of 16th and Georgetown in one week from now.

3. Sebastien Bourdais (-2)

Perhaps Dale Coyne Racing can salvage their month of May with a big push in the IndyCar Grand Prix. Once the scenery moves back to the 2.5-mile oval, the odds are not in the Frenchman’s favor.

4. Will Power (+1)

Power finally reached the finish of an 2017 IndyCar race without issue. A second-place finish behind Pagenaud was well earned and should make the Aussie a challenger in both May events.

5. Simon Pagenaud (+1)

Even without the yellow flag, Pagenaud was looming as a potential winner. Although a third IndyCar GP win in four tries is signficant; the 2016 IndyCar champion has made it clear that the Indy 500 is the one he wants the most.

6. James Hinchcliffe (-2)

Last year’s Indy 500 pole winner should bounce back to play a role in the drama on May 28; however, based on his Long Beach victory, his best shot at Brickyard glory could be in the IndyCar Grand Prix.

7. Helio Castroneves (+1)

Castroneves has been more effective in qualifying than on race day. The pressure to make history as a four-time Indy 500 champion exists, but expect the Brazilian to dig deep in his quest to get there.

8. Tony Kanaan (Unranked)

A quiet sixth-place last week sets the stage for TK’s best chances for victory this season. If Honda regains its muscle from 2016, watch out.

9. Alexander Rossi (-1)

Rossi and his Andretti teammates floundered at Phoenix, leaving their month of May prospects in doubt. Probably faces a higher mountain than any defending Indy 500 champion in history.

10. J.R. Hildebrand (Unranked)

Indy’s hard luck hero added his name to the contenders’ list with a podium finish at Phoenix. He was in the mix late in last year’s Indy 500 until he made contact with Helio Castroneves.

Dropped Out: Ryan Hunter-Reay (9th last week), Spencer Pigot (10th last week)

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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IndyCar Open Wheel

Bourdais, Aleshin Among Drivers Caught in Lap 1 Crash

On Saturday night at Phoenix Raceway, five drivers saw their race over before it truly began following a wreck on the opening lap in Turn 1.

Going into the corner, Mikhail Aleshin lost control of his No. 7 Honda, spinning around which left nowhere to go for the competitors behind him.

“Unfortunately, when we got to Turn 1, I felt the rear of the car went, and I just couldn’t do anything,” he said. “I was (a) full lock, and I just understood that that was it. I feel sorry for the guys that hit as well, but that’s racing. Very sorry to my Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team and everyone that works on the No. 7 because I think the guys did a fantastic job. Sometimes situations like this happen, but we’ll keep moving forward.”

One of the drivers caught up in the incident was Sebastien Bourdais entered the event as the points leader, but now sits fourth in points following a 19th place finish.

“It’s disappointing,” he said. “We work so hard and try to do things right. We had a good position at the start, being on the outside, and I could’ve probably picked up one or two positions because I had a good run going. But then all it takes is someone who takes a little bit too much risk to ruin your day. You can take risks when you’re on the outside all alone, but if you’re in the middle, in the gearbox of the car in front of you, there’s a good chance that you’ll lose the car. It’s disappointing to lose the points lead like this, I knew we would lose it this weekend, but we’re missing out on some precious points. Plus, there’s a lot of damage to the car, and we didn’t need that.”

Also collected in the aftermath was Marco Andretti, Max Chilton, and Graham Rahal. It continues their struggles as they each sit outside the top-15 in points following four races. Notably, Chilton has failed to post a top-10 finish in his sophomore campaign for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“There was just nowhere to go really,” Chilton said. “I was sort of tensing because I knew four-wide on the start on a short oval wasn’t good. It was just one of those things. I hate going out on Lap 1, but I just spun to avoid the accident and got collected. Hopefully, we can get a better result with the Gallagher car in Indy next month.”

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.