McLaren, Fernando Alonso Fail to Qualify for 2019 Indy 500 After Nail-Biting Quali Session
One of the most powerful names in motor racing was out-qualified by one of IndyCar’s smallest and most underfunded teams.
After enduring a several-hour delay due to thunderstorms in the greater Indianapolis area, Fernando Alonso and his McLaren Racing Chevy set out to lap the 2.5-mile oval one more time with the hopes of landing one of the last three spots for next Sunday's Indy 500. Unfortunately for the papaya orange squad, they will be packing their bags and heading home after their performance fell short of their competitors.
The first of the "last six" to head out onto a drying track was Arrow Schmidt Peterson's James Hinchcliffe, who right away showed he had enough pace to not get bumped out when the session came to a close. The popular Canadian put together a four-lap average that nearly dipped into the 228-miles-per-hour territory and solidified his position as the 31st qualifier. Then it was Alonso's turn, who immediately delivered a speed average close to Hinchcliffe on his first lap, quickly making fans and even NBC Sports commentators celebrate and show their support for the famous Spaniard.
Sadly, that was the only positive of Alonso's final attempt to qualify for the 103rd running of the Indy 500. The F1-champ's subsequent laps got considerably slower, to the point that no one knew if his four-lap average of 227.353-mph was enough to get bumped off by the end of the session—but at least there was hope. Carlin Racing's Max Chilton took to the track after Alonso and quickly showed that he was even slower than the previous two competitors, and by the time he finished his run it was evident that he would not be partaking in next week's race. At this point, it appeared there was hope for Alonso once more.
Five-time Indy 500 competitor Sage Karam was next in line, and the young racer quickly showed his true colors by delivering the fastest speeds of the session so far. The Dreyer and Reinbold race car was hooked up and it lapped the iconic oval faster than Hinchcliffe, Alonso, and most certainly Chilton—but most importantly—it bumped Alonso into the danger zone.
The last back-marker to attempt to qualify was Juncos’ Kyle Kaiser, a part-time racer who landed a deal with one of the smallest and most underfunded racing teams on the paddock. Making matters even more difficult, Kaiser had chosen to skip Sunday morning's practice in order to save the car and not assume any unnecessary risks. As a result, his qualifying run was the first time he had taken to the track that day and would face unknown track conditions.
Much to everyone's surprise, but especially Alonso's, Kaiser's speed was spot-on right off the bat, delivering a 227.372-mph average after four extremely tidy laps. There was a loud gasp at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which could only mean one thing: Fernando Alonso, the Formula 1 world champion, the Le Mans and Daytona winner, had officially been bumped out of the Indy 500.
There's always next year, Fernando.