Earlier this week, we learned that Mikhail Aleshin will return to Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and the Verizon IndyCar Series for the 2016 season. I’ll admit that when Aleshin was first announced for the 2014 season, my first thought was “who?” and my second thought was “great, another unqualified foreign driver that no one has heard of that bought his way into a ride”. I don’t think I was alone.
Sometimes, my day job requires me to attend certain lunch functions where I find myself in the company of some of the movers and shakers in the Nashville area. Keep in mind; I’m there to see them. They are not there to see me. I am not in the movers and shakers club. Most of these events hold about as much allure to me as hitting myself in the head with a hammer, but my job requires my presence.
There are several claims and comparison about who might be the greatest this and that in all of racing. Most would probably agree that Formula One czar Bernie Ecclestone is arguably the most powerful man in racing. Many can spend hours and even days arguing whether Mario Andretti or AJ Foyt is the greatest driver in history. You’d be hard-pressed to convince me that Roger Penske is not the most powerful owner in IndyCar.
We are now past the halfway point of the Verizon IndyCar Series offseason. This coming weekend marks the fourteenth consecutive weekend that we have gone without an IndyCar race. We still have another thirteen raceless weekends to go, but at least we’re whittling them down. Twenty-seven weekends is a long time between races, but IndyCar CEO Mark Miles is addressing that issue by starting next season earlier and ending it later so there’s no use in beating that dead horse.
Normally, the Thanksgiving weekend is a dead time for news to break from the Verizon IndyCar Series. That was pretty much the case this past weekend, except for one little item that probably merits a mention; Sage Karam’s contract was not renewed at Chip Ganassi Racing for 2016.
As we IndyCar fans look back on 2015, there really is a lot to be thankful for. Of course, there was also tragedy as we lost Justin Wilson to a fluke accident at Pocono in August. But we can be thankful that the IndyCar community stepped up and raised over $600,000 for the care of his young children. The efforts by Graham Rahal and several others shows the strong bond among those who are competitors on the track, but close friends off of it.
Last week, Racer.com ran a story about Andretti Autosport running at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) for a team test earlier in the week. Marco Andretti was quoted throughout the article discussing how fun the new configuration at Phoenix is for a driver. The article also speculated that Arie Luyendyk’s twenty year-old record at PIR may be in jeopardy, when the series returns in the spring after a ten-year absence.