Despite some drastic setup changes, Fernando Alonso fell short of making the grid for the Indy 500.
After an incredibly difficult week of running, Alonso’s chance to make the grid boiled down to a single run on unfamiliar settings. The five other drivers fighting him for a spot in the race were all in a similar boat, sure, but if anyone could pull something out of the bag in this sort of situation it would surely be Alonso, right?
Wrong. Despite a solid and consistent – if unspectacular – run, Alonso ended up 34th of 36 cars in an incredibly tense session which saw Kyle Kaiser – the last driver to run – knock him out of the field with a four-lap average just 0.019mph quicker. It couldn’t have been much closer!
It’s an incredible story of Kaiser and Juncos Racing in itself. His sponsors withdrew just a few days before qualifying and then the team was up against it after a crash on Friday left the team scrambling for spare parts. He did a mega job to scrape into the field, along with James Hinchcliffe and Sage Karam.
Meanwhile, Alonso will be sitting on the sidelines with Max Chilton and Pato O’Ward after failing to qualify. His triple crown hopes will have to wait another year… Maybe.
The thing with the Indy 500 is that it’s the car that qualifies for the race, not the driver. Theoretically, some sort of deal could be done to get Alonso in a car that’s already qualified. Don’t bank on it, though – it didn’t happen for Hinchcliffe last year and it’s incredibly unlikely it’ll happen this year.