Archive for May, 2019

The 1974 Souvenir Edition of the Indianapolis News, previewing the 1974 Indianapolis 500.

 

By: Jeff Majeske – Managing Editor

INDIANAPOLIS – Something I always looked forward to each May was the Fuson Form Chart. This page of analysis was penned by Wayne Fuson, sports editor of the Indianapolis News, which was the afternoon paper in Indianapolis.

Wayne Fuson, Indianapolis News Sports Editor, went with A.J. Foyt in 1974. Foyt led much of the race, but dropped out.

It came in the souvenir preview section and was a staple of pre-race coverage. Fuson had an engaging, unique style patterned off horse racing forms that were eminently readable and entertaining. It rated the jockey (driver), horse (car), stable (team) and sometimes even the groom (chief mechanic or crew chief then; now it would be a lead engineer or strategist, I suppose), advising readers how much to bet in a good-natured, humorous manner.

Mr. Fuson died in 1996. So consider the following a bit of a tribute to him leading into this year’s race:

Car 22 — Simon Pagenaud 2-1

Jockey has had a magnificent May, winning the IndyCar Grand Prix two weeks ago and now the pole for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500. Proven mount from the Team Penske stable, which already has 17 Indy wins. Bet a bundle and you may be sitting pretty.

Car 20 — Ed Carpenter 3-1

Just edged out of fourth Indy pole and second straight, jockey itching for that first 500 win. After leading 65 laps last year and finishing second to Will Power, Carpenter showed he has the mettle to get it done. Dig deep for a big bet.

Car 12 — Will Power 3-1

Another top-notch entry out of the Team Penske stable, last year’s winning jockey is primed to win two straight. That doesn’t happen often in the 500, but if you have some extra cash, use it here.

Car 9 — Scott Dixon 4-1

It’s been a low-key week for this proven jockey, who won it all in 2008. Goes to the post just 18th, but Chip Ganassi stable always provides a first-class mount and groom Mike Hull is one of the smartest around. Visit your friendly PNC Bank for a sizable withdrawal.

Car 27 — Alexander Rossi 5-1

Miserly fuel consumption and deliberate pace lifted jockey to Indy glory as a rookie in 2016. He’s continued to impress since, and mount looked very racy in Monday’s practice session. Dig up that coffee can in the backyard.

Car 88 — Colton Herta 7-1

Rookie jockey has been smooth, fast and impressive. He’s already cracked the win column this year, the youngest ever in IndyCar competition (at 18; he’s now 19). If you feel youth will be served, dip into your rainy-day fund.

Car 2 — Josef Newgarden 7-1

Jockey leads the IndyCar points chase and is another of the younger set seeking first Indy win. He fell just short in 2016, taking third, and now he’s in his third season with Team Penske. Isn’t it time that so-called friend finally paid you back? Use that cash and a little more at the betting window.

Car 98 — Marco Andretti 9-1

Day-glo red mount is a tribute to grandfather Mario’s lone Indy victory 50 years ago. Third-generation jockey has had some strong runs at the Brickyard, including getting nipped at the wire by Sam Hornish Jr. in his rookie year back in 2006. He’s worth at least a little something for old time’s sake, if nothing else.

Car 3 — Helio Castroneves 9-1

He and his team know the way to Victory Lane as the jockey has contributed three of Team Penske’s 17 victories in the Indianapolis 500. Now a full-time driver on the twisties, Castroneves remains a bona fide threat on the Indy oval. Dance on up to the betting window.

Car 30 — Takuma Sato 9-1

Jockey is one of the bravest and he’s an Indy winner, too – just two years ago. Mount from Rahal Letterman Lanigan stable should run all day. Use the money you would’ve used for a couple of trips to the concession stand and you might be eating well the rest of the week.

Car 15 — Graham Rahal 9-1

Second-generation jockey would love to join dad Bobby on the Borg-Warner. Indy has been rather unkind to him, with an average finish of about 18th and two last-place finishes in 11 previous starts. Worth a bet, but don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Car 18 — Sebastien Bourdais 10-1

Jockey came back last year after a vicious crash in qualifying for the 2017 race. Smooth, smart and savvy, he’s more than capable of winning. Groom Dale Coyne often a clever strategist. If you’re looking for an underdog to bet big, you could do worse.

Car 63 — Ed Jones 10-1

After an outstanding debut two years ago with a marvelous third-place finish, jockey now trying to restart his Indy career after a disappointing season in 2018. Mount out of the Ed Carpenter Racing stable has been fast all month. Dip into the butter-and-egg money.

Car 21 — Spencer Pigot 10-1

Young jockey surprised everyone with front-row qualifying effort for the Ed Carpenter Racing stable. Boss has an eye for talent, though, as Newgarden came through Carpenter’s team. Throw a few old presidents the young American’s way.

Car 14 — Tony Kanaan 15-1

He’s a former winner (2013) and back driving for the legend himself, A.J. Foyt. The combination showed excellent pace last year, leading 19 laps. No harm putting a little on TK’s, uh, nose.

Car 28 — Ryan Hunter-Reay 15-1

2014 winner has been a step behind his Andretti Autosport teammates this month but definitely has the ability to bring his mount forward. Use that leftover birthday money your aunt gave you.

Car 5 — James Hinchliffe 15-1

Popular jockey knows well the exhilarating highs and the cruel punishment the Speedway can dish out – horribly injured in a crash in 2015, pole-winner in 2016, failed to qualify in 2018. Had to sweat it out this year but came through with stout qualifying run on last day in his backup car after trashing primary mount. Talk to your rich uncle and get a race-day loan.

Car 25 — Conor Daly 18-1

Jockey has been waiting for a mount like this his whole career, and he’s done well this month with the Andretti Autosport entry. He’s sponsored by the U.S. Air Force and it’s Memorial Day Weekend, so drop a little green for the red, white and blue.

Car 77 — Oriol Servia 18-1

Quietly does a professional job each May, and this year is no exception. Some rumors said his mount would be given to fellow Spaniard Fernando Alonso, but that was just talk. If you can get a bet for the Top 10, take it.

Car 23 — Charlie Kimball 18-1

Only Carlin-affiliated mount to make the race as Fernando Alonso, Max Chilton and Patricio O’Ward are the three left in the barn this year. An Indy win would lessen that sting considerably. If you believe the team is due for redemption right away, here’s your chance.

Car 48 — JR Hildebrand 18-1

Speaking of redemption, jockey came within one turn of winning Indy as a rookie in 2011. He’s back for a second go-round with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, sporting the No. 48 made famous by Dan Gurney. That alone is worth a few dollars, right?

Car 26 — Zach Veach 20-1

Goes to the post much deeper than expected (28th) for an Andretti Autosport mount. The great Louis Meyer won from there once, but that was a long, long time ago (1936). Jockey is capable and his time is coming, but probably not this year.

Car 10 — Felix Rosenqvist 20-1

Rookie jockey has a class mount from the Chip Ganassi stable. He’s been a winner in other series, but this is his first time on a high-speed oval. Maybe next year.

Car 7 — Marcus Ericcson 30-1

Another rookie, he showed well in qualifying with a fine run (13th), second only to Colton Herta among the first-year jockeys. Like Rosenqvist, he’s from Sweden. And like Rosenqvist, let’s wait a year or two.

Car 19 — Santino Ferucci 30-1 

Teammate to Sebastien Bourdais, the 20-year-old American has quietly done a solid job this month. Best bet would be if he can upset Colton Herta for Rookie of the Year.

Car 4 — Matheus Leist 30-1

Second-year jockey again teamed with Tony Kanaan out of A.J. Foyt’s stable. Has shown promise from time to time. Advance cautiously to the betting window, though.

Car 60 — Jack Harvey 30-1

Third-year jockey rides perhaps the most colorful mount in the field. Tried a fuel-economy run last year, and it nearly paid off. Seems to have a bright future, but that future probably isn’t now.

Car 24 — Sage Karam 30-1

Jockey delivered a thrilling last-day qualifying performance to secure his spot in the field. The outpouring of emotion afterward was touching and underscored how badly these drivers want to compete in the Indianapolis 500. Best hope and bet would be a Top 10 finish.

Car 81 — Ben Hanley 33-1

Rookie jockey drives for DragonSpeed, and believe it or not, it has nothing to do with “Game of Thrones.” Expected to be among those battling for a spot in the last row, he instead safely secured a spot on the first day of qualifying and goes to the post 27th. If he can move into the top 20 by race’s end, that would be a good day.

Car 39 — Pippa Mann 33-1

Before the month, she was on everyone’s “going to be bumped” list, but, man, did Mann do a great job in qualifying. Ousted last year in gut-wrenching fashion, she vowed to come back stronger and did just that. Jockey has snuck her way up front on occasion in previous races. This would be the ultimate Cinderella story, so to speak, so if you’re so inclined …

Car 33 — James Davison 33-1

Another fine under-the-radar performance, jockey goes to the post 15th. From there, he’ll look back on three former winners (Tony Kanaan, Scott Dixon and Ryan Hunter-Reay). If he can maintain that spot at the end of the race, that would be a nice accomplishment for this little team.

Car 42 — Jordan King 33-1

Young Englishman drove the twisties for Ed Carpenter Racing last year before joining Rahal Letterman Lanigan stable this season. A rookie starting deep in the pack (26th) isn’t a great combination.

Car 32 — Kyle Kaiser 33-1

Second-year jockey thrilling run sent two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso to the barn in one of the biggest qualifying shockers in 500 history. Don’t expect this feel-great story to continue, though. Give Kaiser a salute on race day, but skip the betting window.

The 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 has become a celebration on several levels. First it was 50 years ago that Mario Andretti and Chicago’s own Andy Granatelli captured the Borg-Warner Trophy. Both Granatelli and Andretti quickly became American racing legends. It was also in 1969, that a burgoning race team from Philadelphia arrived at the greatest racing venue on the planet, the Indiananpolis Motor Speedway, and quickly illustrated that they were one to be reckoned with; Penske Racing.

Also in 1969, a Region Racer by the name of Leon Duray “Jigger” Sirois, pursued the path set by his father and 3 time winner of Brickyard Classic; Earl “Frenchy” Sirois to particpate in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

At the end of four days of qualifying, Sirois cemented his legendary status, a subject still be discussed today, by those knowledgeable of the deep history of the Indianapolis 500. During the month of May in 1969, Jigger Sirois displayed the class of a champion. To this day he still displays the character instilled upon him by his father.

His statement following qualifying remains a defining testament to his character and class …

“Indianapolis is special. It is the ultimate test. If that’s where you’re going, you’d better be ready. If you aren’t, you should take your helmet bag and go home.”

Leon Duray “Jigger” Sirois

Born in Shelby, Indiana on April 16, 1935, the son of the Earl “Frenchy” Sirois, Leon was labeled early. Named after 1920’s driver Leon Duray, it also didn’t take long for him to be nicknamed after another Indy veteran, riding mechanic, “Jigger” Johnson.

Although not pressed by his father to go into racing, “Jigger” Sirois soon learned he had the support of his family and other “Region Racers” like Dale “Tiny” Worley, Johnny Pawl, Jerry Govert, Minnie Joyce and Ray Nichels. He began racing in 1956, with his first contest being a Jalopy race at Illiana Motor Speedway in Schererville. That same year, the next challenge he accepted was racing midget racecars in the United Midget Auto Racing Association (UMARA) for car owner Jack Sims of Crown Point. Racing at the Joliet Memorial Stadium in Illinois was then considered by race fans to be some of the finest midget racing in the country. Jigger’s midget racing travels also took him to O’Hare Stadium in Chicago, and Raceway Park in Blue Island, Illinois.

By 1961, Jigger’s reputation had grown considerably as a reliable, smooth and competitive driver. He took a new ride with Larry White of Lockport, Illinois and never looked back. Behind the wheel of the No. 82 car, Sirois made his mark winning the UARA Season’s Championship, winning 8 features out of the 49 race cards he appeared on. What was most impressive was his 46 race finishes, coupled with winning 17 heat races and 6 trophy dashes.

SiroisRacing1961

Jigger moved to the USAC National Midgets Schedule in 1962, driving for Harry Turner in the No. 21. He got off to a great start almost winning the 100 lap “Night before the 500” contest at Indianapolis Raceway Park, before losing a tire after leading for well over 60 laps, eventually finishing sixth. It was that evening that the vast majority of the Indianapolis 500 community saw what Sirois could do. Something very important to Jigger as his ultimate goal was racing in the Indianapolis 500.

Four months later, Jigger lay in a hospital bed after a spectacular wreck at the quarter-mile track at Springfield, Illinois. After being in critical condition for almost a week, he began the long road back. Serious head injuries, burns, a broken collar-bone and assorted other injuries required months of rehabilitation. Unbelievably, he was back racing the following season.

Jigger raced midgets and sprint cars for a variety of sanctioning bodies; USAC, IMCA and others over the next few years. He mixed it up with the likes of A.J. Foyt, Johnny Rutherford and other racing greats of the era, winning his share of races.

In 1967, IndyCar rides began to surface with Sirois attempting to qualify at tracks such as Indianapolis, Trenton, Milwaukee, DuQuoin and Springfield. But in every case, the equipment he was in was not competitive, stunting his ability to move up the IndyCar racing ladder. In 1968, he qualified for four IndyCar races. At Michigan International Speedway, he ran with the leaders for much of day, before losing a clutch while in 2nd place in the Inaugural USAC IndyCar 250 mile race.

In 1969, his best opportunity presented itself at Indianapolis. Sirois who was convinced that this was the opportunity he had been waiting for, quit his crane operator’s job back in the “Region,” and settled in as he prepared to chase his dream. On Friday, May 16th, Jigger drew the first spot in qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 to be held on the following day.

SiroisIndy

With the skies threatening rain, Jigger Sirois in his No 14 Quaker State Oil Gerhardt-Offy went out on the track and did what he did best, he “stood on it”. His first lap clocked in at 161 miles per hour, next was a 162 mph, and then the third lap a solid 162.5 mph. But as he headed back into the first turn for his final lap, his car owner, fearing Jigger’s effort wouldn’t be fast enough overall to qualify, unexpectedly pulled out the yellow flag, indicating that the team was waving off their qualifying attempt. Before the next car could get out on the track, it started to rain. It rained the entire weekend wiping out all of speedway qualifying. Had Jigger’s race team allowed him to finish his fourth lap, Sirois would have been the pole winner until qualifying the following weekend. Because of a quirk in the 1969 rules, it was logical that Jigger would have been the first pole winner ever “bumped” the following weekend. But what was even more disheartening was when Sirois went out on the following weekend to claim a spot in the 500, his engine blew after a single lap. To add insult to injury, the slowest Indy 500 qualifying effort was by fellow rookie, Peter Revson, who copped the last spot with a 160.851 mph run. Had Jigger’s car owner not waved off his first qualifying attempt the previous weekend, Jigger’s projected speed of 161.535 mph would have put him in his first 500.

What happened after that, showed what kind of man, Sirois really is. Jigger refused to second guess his car owner stating that “I don’t believe in being bitter. A lot of people have a lot worse things happen to them. I was upset, but life is too short to be bitter.” He later said “Indianapolis is special. It is the ultimate test. If that’s where you’re going, you’d better be ready. If you aren’t, you should take your helmet bag and go home.”

Jigger retired from racing in 1977, relocated to Williamsburg, Virginia and has since retired from the American Oil Company (AMOCO).

Following his racing days, Sirois tackled another great challenge in his life, a life-long stuttering affliction. Jigger had battled with public speaking during his racing days and in 2000 pursued help with his inability to communicate by doing what he did on the race track, battling it. He was victorious and since has won several public speaking awards. In fact, in 2002, after declining for many years to be the host speaker for the annual American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association breakfast held during the Month of May, when the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association  (AARWBA) presents it annual winner of the “The Jigger Award” so named as the hard-luck award, Leon “Jigger” Sirois accepted their invitation and proceeded to give an inspiring speech.

As the years have passed, Leon “Jigger” Sirois has become one of the storied legends of the Brickyard and although his notoriety initially was because of a bad break, his legacy has since become one of class and integrity.

Making the starting field of the Indianapolis 500 can go a long way toward making a driver’s career — missing the field however, can weigh heavily on a man’s spirit for many years to come. 

In 1969, one Region Racer proved he had more character than anyone could have imagined and since then, he’s proved it by a life well-lived. 

That is what makes him one of the great “Region Racers.”

Penske Racing …

Posted: May 22, 2019 in Uncategorized

By: Jeff Majeske – Managing Editor

No. 71 — Rick Mears – 1978 CAM2 Penske PC6/Cosworth.

After trying unsuccessfully to qualify for the 500 as a rookie in 1977, Mears caught the eye of Roger Penske and was offered a ride in races that Mario Andretti could not compete in due to Formula One commitments. Mears eagerly accepted the offer, which also included the Indianapolis 500. The Bakersfield, Calif., native justified Penske’s confidence by grabbing the outside spot on the front row, setting a rookie qualifying record in the process.

Race day wasn’t great, as Mears forgot to buckle his helmet at the start and then had his engine let go just after halfway and finished 23rd. Still, the outstanding performance in time trials helped Mears earn Co-Rookie of the Year with Larry Rice.

Mears’ number, 71, is rarely used at the Speedway, but I think the reason why Penske used that number is because his other entries were 7 (Andretti) and 1 (Tom Sneva), so he just combined the two. (Dick Simon had 17 that year, in case you were wondering.)

#ThisIsMay#Indy500

By: Jeff Majeske – Managing Editor

No 89 — John Martin — 1973 Unsponsored McLaren/Offy

John Martin was one of the few drivers capable of working on his car – fairly rare in 1973 and unheard of today.

A fixture in the Indy lineup from 1972-76, the hard-working Martin made the most of his equipment. Like many others, Martin was involved in the first-lap Salt Walther accident, but was able to make repairs and wound up eighth, his best result at Indianapolis.

The next year, Martin actually landed a sponsor, resulting in the tongue-twisting Sea Snack Shrimp Cocktail Special.

#ThisIsMay#Indy500

Photo credit: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

 

By: Jeff Majeske – Managing Editor

No. 44, Dick Simon, –1973 TraveLodge Eagle/Foyt.

I miss guys like Dick Simon around the Speedway. Energetic and enthusiastic, Simon was an outstanding ski jumper and parachutist before he pursued a career in Indy cars. Had the X Games been around in, say, the 1960s, he probably would’ve been a star.

As for Indianapolis, Simon usually was saddled with marginal equipment that he had to hustle into the show. His 1973 mount was pretty decent, though, and Simon ran up front before piston failure sent him to the sidelines for a 14th-place finish.

Toward the end of his career, Simon obtained better cars and that led to better results – he was sixth and ninth in his last two races in 1987 and 1988, respectively. Simon is bald, but during the 1970s he picked up sponsorship from LAN, maker of hairpieces, so he donned a toupee.

#This is May#Indy500

Front Row of the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 — Spencer Pigot, Ed Carpenter and Simon Pagenaud — IndyCar Image by Chris Owens

INDIANAPOLIS (Sunday, May 19, 2019) – Simon Pagenaud continued on his roll this May, winning the pole position for the upcoming 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. Two-time Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso, however, will be a spectator for the May 26 race after failing to qualify.

In a drama-filled Sunday afternoon that featured separate qualifying sessions to fill opposite ends of the 33-car starting grid, Pagenaud completed a four-lap Fast Nine Shootout qualification run on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway superspeedway at 229.992 mph to earn the NTT P1 Award, the 11th pole position of his 11-year Indy car career and first at the Indy 500.

Meanwhile, Sage Karam, James Hinchcliffe and Kyle Kaiser drove their way into the field with the best qualifying efforts in the Last Row Shootout.

Pagenaud delivered the 18th Indianapolis 500 pole position for Team Penske, extending the benchmark NTT IndyCar Series program’s record that stands at 13 more than any other team. In addition, Pagenaud became the first Frenchman in a century to capture the Indy 500 pole, since Rene Thomas in 1919.

“Team Menards & Team Penske have been phenomenal, giving me the best equipment,” said Pagenaud, who turned 35 on Saturday. “I can’t thank them enough and my teammates for always pushing me to the limit. This is incredible. This is the biggest race in the world, so obviously I’m on Cloud Nine.”

Pagenaud is the hottest driver in the NTT IndyCar Series, fresh off a May 11 win in the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS road course. Driving the No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet on the oval on Sunday, he outperformed a trio of Ed Carpenter Racing drivers who qualified second through fourth.

Pagenaud edged out Ed Carpenter, who qualified the No. 20 Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet at 229.889 mph and narrowly missed winning the Indy 500 pole for a fourth time. Spencer Pigot, fastest in first-day qualifying on Saturday, ranked a career-best third Sunday in the No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet at 229.826 mph. Ed Jones was fourth in the No. 63 Ed Carpenter Racing Scuderia Corsa Chevrolet at 229.646 mph.

“I was hoping one of the three of us was going to get the pole, but finishing 2-3-4 is the next best thing,” team owner/driver Carpenter said. “I’m really proud of the whole team to give us the cars we had, which put us in the position to go out and qualify the way that we did.” 

Rookie Colton Herta repeated his stellar effort from Saturday, qualifying fifth on Sunday at 229.086 mph in the No. 88 GESS Capstone Honda for Harding Steinbrenner Racing. Will Power, the 2018 Indy 500 winner, rounded out the second row by qualifying sixth in the No. 12 Verizon 5G Team Penske Chevrolet (228.645 mph).

Sebastien Bourdais posted the seventh-best run in the No. 18 SealMaster Honda (228.621 mph), ahead of NTT IndyCar Series points leader Josef Newgarden in the No. 2 Shell V-Power Nitro Plus Team Penske Chevrolet (228.396 mph) and 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi in the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda (228.247 mph).

Pagenaud will lead the closest field in Indianapolis 500 history to the green flag. The time separating Pagenaud’s four-lap qualifying attempt and that of slowest qualifier Pippa Mann was 1.8932 seconds, breaking the previous mark of 2.1509 seconds in 2014. The 228.240 mph speed average of the 33 qualifiers is fourth fastest in Indianapolis 500 history.

Rain delayed the start of Sunday’s two qualifying sessions more than four hours. The Last Row Shootout to decide the final three drivers in the field preceded the Fast Nine Shootout, and it ended with Alonso and McLaren Racing on the outside looking in. Returning to the Indy 500 for a second time in a bid to win the last leg of racing’s Triple Crown, Alonso was knocked from the field when Kaiser posted a four-lap qualifying run 0.019 of a mph faster.

Six drivers vied for the last 3 positions in the field. Alonso, the third to try, completed his run at 227.353 mph in the No. 66 McLaren Racing Chevrolet. It placed the Spaniard second to Hinchcliffe at the time.

Karam qualified at 227.740 mph in the No. 24 DRR WIX Filters Chevrolet, dropping Alonso onto the bubble as the 33rd qualifier. In a backup car cobbled together by his Juncos Racing crew after Kaiser crashed the primary No. 32 Chevrolet in Friday practice, Kaiser ran four laps at 227.372 mph to take the last spot away from Alonso.

“Obviously, it would be nice to be in the race next Sunday,” Alonso said. “We came here to race and to challenge ourselves, and we were not quick enough. I congratulate all the other guys that did a better job, and hopefully we’ll see a nice show next Sunday.

“We are all disappointed, and we will try to do better next time. But it’s that kind of things that you learn. I said before, I prefer to be here – even 34th – than being at home like last year.”

Kaiser called the days since his crash “the most emotional 48 hours of my life.” The 2017 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires champion qualified for his second Indianapolis 500 with the small-budget Juncos team.

“I don’t think I can wrap my mind around what we just did,” Kaiser said. “Like I keep saying, all the credit to the team. They’ve been working nonstop trying to get this car ready for us and they did everything we needed to get us in this field. I’m so proud of them, so proud of everybody that helped make this happen.”

The field of 33 has a two-hour practice scheduled for noon ET Monday that streams live on INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold. The final practice, held traditionally on Miller Lite Carb Day, has been expanded to 90 minutes starting at 11 a.m. Friday and will be televised on NBCSN.

The 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 airs live at 11 a.m. Sunday, May 26 on NBC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Sunday 19 May

“This experience will only make us stronger as a team, and we want to come back”

McLaren Racing and Fernando Alonso will not progress to the 2019 Indianapolis 500, following the Last Row Shootout today. The shootout for the final three spots followed a challenging qualifying weekend for the team and resulted in Fernando posting an average speed of 227.353mph which at the time of his run placed him 32nd. Sage Karam then put in a 227.740mph to go fastest in the session and pushed Alonso down to the ‘bubble’ position in 33rd. Patricio O’Ward was not able to better Fernando’s time but it was then Kyle Kaiser who pushed Fernando out of the field by just 0.019mph.

Fernando Alonso, #66

“It has been a very long qualifying, nearly 56 hours from yesterday morning. Yesterday, we were 31st instead of 30th. Today, 34th instead of 33rd by a very small margin, and unfortunately, we were not fast enough on both days. I’m disappointed now, obviously, it would be nice to be in the race next Sunday.

“I want to thank the team for all the efforts, we kept pushing. We came here to race and to challenge ourselves and we were not quick enough. I congratulate all the other guys that did a better job, and hopefully, we’ll see a nice show next Sunday, with everyone safe. I will be enjoying from the TV, unfortunately.”

Gil De Ferran, Sporting Director

“This has been a very emotional and difficult experience, not only for me but for the whole team. I want to take this opportunity to apologize and thank the fans, not only here in the U.S. but globally, who have been following our progress. I want to thank our team: the guys been have been working for several months, and particularly this last month or so have put in a tremendous effort and worked all the hours in the day.

“This is a very difficult sport. We certainly didn’t underestimate it. We knew this was going to be a tremendously hard challenge. I’ve been here before. I’ve seen some incredible people not make the race. So we were certainly very aware of how difficult this was going to be.

“I want to apologize and thank our partners who have been fantastic, and incredibly supportive through this journey. I thank also the whole IndyCar community, who welcomed us with open arms. All the way from the officials, safety people, all the other teams, everyone in and around INDYCAR, it was nothing but a warm feeling and a lot of support.

“I think last but not least, I want to thank Fernando. We didn’t give him a car that was fast enough but he drove like the champion we know he is, particularly these last three days. It has been incredibly tense and very difficult, and we couldn’t have asked anything more from him.

“In my 35 years of racing, this is the most painful experience I’ve ever had but we are racers. We respect this place and it is one of the toughest challenges in racing. This experience will only make us stronger as a team, and we want to come back.”

Two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso is almost out of chances to make this year’s field for the Indianapolis 500 – Photo credit: Dana Garrett/Indianapolis Motor Speedway

By Jeff Majekse — Managing Editor / SpeedwaySighitngs

INDIANAPOLIS – A young American driver known only to hardcore fans of the NTT IndyCar Series and one of the most famous drivers in the world highlighted a wild first day of qualifying for the 103rd Indianapolis 500 on Saturday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Pigot, in the No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara/Chevrolet, has the provisional pole after notching a four-lap average of 230.083 mph. While Pigot’s place in the field of 33 is secure, two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso is in serious jeopardy of not making the race.

Despite five attempts, Alonso failed to post a speed fast enough to make the top 30 in the McLaren Racing Dallara/Chevrolet.

“It was a difficult day and a difficult week in general,” said Alonso, who crashed on Wednesday.

All hope is not lost for the Spaniard, though. Alonso and five other drivers, including James Hinchcliffe, will fight it out for the final three spots in the field.

Weather permitting, the pole, the first three rows (positions 1-9) and the last row (positions 31-33) will be decided in qualifying on Sunday. Thunderstorms are forecast, however.

If Sunday is a total washout, positions 1-30 are considered set. The last row will be contested on the next available day, with each car getting one attempt.

In addition to Alonso, the other participants in the Last Row Shootout are:

  • James Hinchcliffe, No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Dallara/Honda
  • Sage Karam, No. 24 Dreyer and Reinbold WIX Filters Dallara/Chevrolet
  • Patricio O’Ward, No. 31 Carlin Dallara/Chevrolet
  • Kyle Kaiser, No. 32 Juncos Racing Dallara/Chevrolet
  • Max Chilton, No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Dallara/Chevrolet

In addition to Pigot, the rest of the Fast Nine Shootout is:

  • Will Power, No. 12 Verizon 5G Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet
  • Simon Pagenaud, No. 22 Menards Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet
  • Josef Newgarden, No. 2 Shell Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet
  • Colton Herta, No. 88 Harding Steinbrenner Racing Dallara/Honda
  • Ed Jones, No. 63 Ed Carpenter Racing Scuderia Corsa Dallara/Chevrolet
  • Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Preferred Freezer Services Dallara/Chevrolet
  • Alexander Rossi, No. 27 Napa Auto Parts Dallara/Honda
  • Sebastien Bourdais, No. 18 SealMaster Dallara/Honda

“It feels great to be on top of the speed charts and to have all three Ed Carpenter Racing cars in the Fast Nine Shootout again for the second year in a row,” Pigot said.

Pippa Mann, who like Hinchcliffe missed last year’s race in gut-wrenching fashion, held on to the 30th and final starting position available Saturday with a 227.244 mph average.

“All that was going through my head was, ‘Not again. Not again,” Mann said.


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