Fernando Alonso will not be the 2019 Indianapolis 500.
The two-time Formula 1 champion posted the fourth-fastest lap among the six drivers vying for the final three starting spots in the field. He was in position to make the race in the last position before Kyle Kaiser posted a four-lap run that was just faster than Alonso’s to bump him from the field.
Alonso’s McLaren team has been struggling to find speed all weekend. And it didn’t help that Alonso crashed during practice earlier in the week. The team got setup tips from Roger Penske and struck a deal for shocks from Andretti Autosport ahead of Sunday’s last-gasp qualifying session. That help did not pay off.
Kaiser joins Sage Karam and James Hinchliffe as the three drivers who qualified for the race on Sunday. Kaiser qualified for the race in an unsponsored car that was rebuilt after a practice crash.
Hinchcliffe was in danger of missing his second-straight Indianapolis 500 and his third in five years. He was seriously hurt in a practice crash ahead of the race in 2015 and didn’t qualify for the race in 2018.
Alonso ran the race in 2017
Alonso was extremely competitive when he ran the 2017 Indianapolis 500 before a blown engine took him out of contention. He skipped the Monaco Grand Prix to come over to Indianapolis to run the 500 that season.
Alonso drove a McLaren-branded car that was prepped by Andretti in that race. That helps explain the speed disparity from 2017 to 2019. The McLaren-branded effort in 2019 was an independent one and not affiliated with any major team. That lack of affiliation showed, even as the team got help from the series’ biggest teams at the last minute.
McLaren has publicly teased a potential full-time IndyCar team in recent months and it’s hard to see how the failure to qualify for IndyCar’s biggest race heightens the possibility of McLaren coming to IndyCar full-time in 2020.
If McLaren came over to IndyCar on a full-time basis, Alonso has been mentioned as a possibility to drive for them. After retiring from Formula 1 at the end of the 2018 season, Alonso has primarily driven sports cars in 2019. He won the Rolex 24 at Daytona as part of the four-driver team for Wayne Taylor Racing.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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