8 June 2014
Aleshin shines under the Texas lights
Mikhail Aleshin put in an excellent debut performance at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday, finishing as the fastest rookie in the Firestone 600.
For a driver making only his second oval race start in the Verizon IndyCar Series, and at a venue he'd never seen before, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports' rookie driver Mikhail Aleshin impressed with a fault-free run to seventh place in the Firestone 600.
Aleshin finished in seventh place as the first driver a lap off the lead, and the highest placed of the four official series rookies in this weekend's race.
"I learned so much tonight at Texas Motor Speedway," said the 27-year old Muscovite. "There is just so much for me to learn on every corner of every lap in every race.
"There are a lot of unknowns for me but when you have a good car like I did tonight, it felt great to be out there fighting for positions," he added.
"The team did a great job giving me a fast car, and our pit stops were strong. It helped that I didn't make too many mistakes, and we were able to get a strong result.
"I hear many experienced drivers say that as soon as you think you're used to an oval, it will bite you," he added. "With that in mind, I know I'm not used to this type of racing - but I'm starting to get it."
Including Aleshin, all four of the series rookies make it to the finish of the race, with Carlos Munoz crossing the line in 13th and Jack Hawksworth and Carlos Huertas classified in 15th and 16th position, four laps off the lead.
Munoz would have finished higher if he hadn't the #34 Andretti Autosport - HVM Racing coming onto pit road for a green flag stop on lap 134, something that he was kicking himself for after the race.
"When I made that mistake, I just braked to get down to the speed limit, and I just lost the car completely," he explained. "There was nothing I could do, and before that we were running really good, really fast.
"Even after that happened, the Cinsay car was still really good, and I think we could have finished in the top positions," he said. "I'm just a little disappointed with that mistake, but it's experience for next time. Now we'll move on – we have testing next week, and I'll try to think about that instead."
Meanwhile Huertas was still recovering from the experience of 244 laps of the 1.455-mile high-banked oval which had left him literally in a spin by the finish.
"Racing here tonight was okay for me [but] I found it to be really difficult and sometimes I started to feel a bit dizzy after a while," he admitted. "The pace was good at the end of the stints but at the beginning we were not as fast as some other cars.
"I think I my driving style might have helped me save the tyres a bit for the end of the stints," he added. "I have always been pretty good at looking after my tyres and it helped me here."
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