Join Jim Ayello, who was introduced to the race, to find out who made the Indy 500 Championship and who did not participate in the latest Pit Pass Live presented by Honda.
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INDIANAPOLIS – Fernando Alonso watches his place in the Indianapolis 500 2019 disappear Sunday and is surrounded by the media. He is not happy with that. Not happy at all. It's been burning slowly for almost 24 hours now, as his first qualifying attempts on Saturday were a disaster, as his McLaren team worked on his car at night, as he returned to the track earlier Sunday and left a trail of sparks. because his car was, incredibly, too low.
A few minutes ago, he was out of his car and plunged into a nightmare: reporters and cameras in a hurry, his place in the 2019 Indy 2019 was going, was leaving … but was not leaving. Not yet. But he can see what's going on.
Six drivers compete for the last three places – the Last Row Shootout calls – and after the departure of four drivers, Alonso is the third behind Sage Karam and James Hinchcliffe. Alonso is on the precipice, 33rd out of 33 cars on the field, with two remaining drivers: Patricio O'Ward and Kyle Kaiser.
Alonso is pinched but IndyCar has rules, and he's a class guy and a team player – he tries, he really tries – but he has a hard time seeing if his place at the Indy 500 is gone, and he does not know not. And now, it 's time to do a TV interview near the finish line.
"I can not even look because we have like 50 people (members of the media) here in front of us," he told the TV reporter. "If only you tell me."
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Fernando Alonso reacts after his qualifying race for the 103rd Indianapolis 500. (Photo: Matt Kryger / IndyStar)
Alonso continues to talk, but O'Ward's car heads to the area, drowning Alonso's words. OWard is gone. Now, Alonso's voice can be heard.
"… I understand that this is a big problem," he says of the drama, his case, considered one of the most talented drivers in the world in the hopes of remaining the 33rd fastest driver of the Indy 500 qualifications of 2019. "We understand that, but we hope we can do better."
He does not talk about the race car.
Now the interview is over and O'Ward continues to tour the track and Alonso speaks to the spectators who get their supplies. He is handed an Indy 500 ticket and a Sharpie. Alonso takes both, signs his name and returns them. Another fan, this one wearing an orange Fernando Alonso hat, asks for a selfie. Alonso obliges. That's why fans like it. The guy understands, okay? But it is difficult.
And all this effort was under Alonso. Not his conduct, not necessarily, but of course the preparation around him, which turned to the strange Sunday morning when Alonso's team turned the paddock of the IMS into a trading place. according to The star of IndianapolisJim Ayello, buying shock absorbers for their car in Andretti Autosport.
Alonso's entry into the Indy 500 in 2019, his first participation since his 24th place in 2017, was announced seven months ago, but it seems that his team did not take it as seriously as it could have done. do it. The results of Saturday and earlier Sunday speak for themselves, but the residents of Alonso camp told reporters calmly, and not for attribution, "We have not been prepared."
(Later, Alonso will say that the team entered the weekend with a race strategy that required work.)
This includes the composition of his team, experienced at IMS, but not exactly a team of teams worthy of being worthy of an original driver. Remember, after working all night on Alonso's car, his team sent a car too low on the track Sunday morning, scraping the sidewalk and throwing sparks. They took the car off the track, made adjustments and sent it back to the track.
The incompetence was breathtaking, like what happened during the late rain on Sunday.
In a garage of IMS, the garage of James Hinchcliffe, it is calm. His car is ready even though it was a race car 24 hours earlier. Hinch's crew reinvented the team's rescue car all night after crashing into their main car on Saturday. They are now standing in a circle outside the garage, enjoying the sun. One of them is eating a slice of pizza.
At the corner of the street is Alonso's garage. Scene very different at 15:25, about an hour before the show. About fifty spectators staring, a member of the team is lying on his back under the front of the car and works feverishly. Two are towards the back, where the sparks were shooting. A fourth is on the side of the car, holding a key and asking a question:
"How long do we have?"
The first member of the crew, whoever is near the front, looks at his watch and says something. Here is a fifth member of the crew. And a sixth. The area around Alonso's car is an anthill of activity, and here is a seventh guy behind a wall. Now an eighth.
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Less than an hour later, the car is towed up to the track, where Alonso runs four times at an average speed of 227.353 mph. Karam then passes, then O'Ward and now Kaiser. The second-year Juncos Racing driver broke the bricks for the fourth and final time in his four qualifying rounds. The whole scene is surrealistic:
The rain delayed Sunday's qualifying by more than four hours and a once-robust crowd disappeared. The stands of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are almost empty. Above the finish line, above the bricks, there are about 300 fans. I saw a lot of people at JV basketball games, but that's Indiana.
But it's the Indianapolis 500, and Fernando Alonso is one of the most famous pilots in the world. Wait, the results are there. Kaiser finished at 227.372 mph, third of six drivers in the last race. Alonso is 34th. He went out.
Alonso watched on a hand-held television monitor near the fans, near the media, and he was taken to a golf cart waiting. He tries to smile, but not quite.
Moments later, he goes to an elevator in the press center, where he is determined to talk to reporters as quickly as possible. We are six in the elevator and Alonso drops his guard. He takes off his sunglasses and glares. He scratches his neck, then passes under his fire with his fingers and scratches his chest. Someone suggests to him to return to the track. He does not need to do an interview now.
"Everyone will think we are hiding," he says, and the elevator continues to rise. "Everyone follows us. They do not even follow the first nine.
This is especially true. The biggest story Sunday at Indianapolis 500 qualifying was Fernando Alonso's failure, not Simon Pagenaud's pole, nor dominating Indianapolis' dominance over Ed Carpenter. starting on the front row of the Indy 500, second this year again, ahead of two teammates of Ed Carpenter Racing: Spencer Pigot (third) and Ed Jones (fourth).
Alonso is waiting to talk to the media, but plans have changed. It is said that he has an hour to wait. He can stay here, says an IMS official, or bring a golf cart back to his …
Fernando Alonso does not wait for the rest of the sentence. He goes to the elevator and goes down again. His descent continues. The same goes for the 103rd Indianapolis 500. Without him.
Watch columnist Star Gregg Doyel on Twitter at @GreggDoyelStar or on www.facebook.com/gregg.doyel.