13abc.com Joe Nugent, Sports Anchor/Reporter - email
A successful Verizon IndyCar Series campaign requires high performance at each turn of every race, and that same consistency will be paramount for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM) as it heads to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Aug. 3 for the Honda Indy 200. Mikhail Aleshin tested July 24 at the 13-turn, 2.258-mile road course, and he was struck by the technical precision required to put down a fast lap.
"It's a great track, and I enjoyed all of the elevation changes," Aleshin said. "It's not an easy place to drive, though. It had some sections that felt connected to each other. For example, if you're slow in Turn 1, you'll be slower yet in Turn 3."
The Russian posted the best result of his rookie year thus far June 29 in Race 2 at the Grand Prix of Houston, in which he finished second to teammate Simon Pagenaud. Since then, he has worked diligently with his team to learn to maintain composure when confronted with obstacles during races.
"Patience is the biggest thing I've had to learn this season," he said. "In Europe, we have shorter races, so you really need to get to the front quickly. There's not so much time to recover. Here, the races are longer and you have the ability to gain something back if anything goes wrong early on."
SPM teammate Simon Pagenaud has finished on the podium at Mid-Ohio twice in the past two years. His strong performance this season, with a victory on a road circuit at Indianapolis and street circuit at Houston, makes him a contender for victory on the natural-terrain road course at Mid-Ohio in the No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Honda.
"I think our team has managed to produce an easy-to-drive car that provides good lap times at Mid-Ohio," Pagenaud said. "It's up to us to execute during the race, though, which we've done the past two years."
In 2013, Pagenaud thought his starting position of eighth hindered his chances of victory.
"This year qualifying will be very important," he said. "It's crucial to winning. You have to start up front at this track in order to put yourself in contention to take the win at the end."