Alonso surrounded by Indy 500 winners in bottom third of grid

Fernando Alonso will be disappointed to find himself only 26th on the 33-car grid for the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500, but he can take consolation from the fact that he’s surrounded by several former winners who have all struggled.

Alonso surrounded by Indy 500 winners in bottom third of grid

With the exception of Ed Carpenter Racing’s impressive rookie Rinus VeeKay, the fastest dozen runners in qualifying trim and with the spec BorgWarner turbos turned up to 1.5-bar boost were all Honda powered.

Team Penske-Chevrolet’s Josef Newgarden will start from 13th on the three-by-three grid on Sunday, Aug.23, but Roger Penske’s three Indy winners – Will Power, Simon Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves – will start from 22nd, 25th and 28th.

Read Also:

Following everybody's initial runs, 2018 Indy winner Power tried twice more to improve his speed, but abandoned the second attempt when his first lap didn’t match his previous best. Castroneves, a four-time polesitter at Indy who’s still seeking his record-matching fourth 500 win, did improve his speed on his second run, but so marginally that he didn’t improve his position, while Pagenaud – last year’s pole winner as well as race winner – emerged for another shot but felt uncomfortable about something with the left-rear and pulled in after just one lap.

Castroneves and Pagenaud had been cursed with late initial runs – literally the luck of the draw on Friday night – but given that Ed Carpenter, Conor Daly and Patricio O’Ward (all Chevy-powered) were able to improve their grid slots later in the afternoon suggested there were still gains to be found by some teams.

While O’Ward moved from 19th up to 15th, and fulltime Arrow McLaren SP teammate Oliver Askew tried and failed to improve his speed and will line up 21st, Alonso did not get sent back out.

Having finished Wednesday practice in the top five, and looking set for a similar result on Thursday until his sizeable shunt at Turn 4, Alonso has not looked strong since, finishing Fast Friday (the first chance to run at 1.5-bar boost) just 25th.

Although looking downbeat, he told NBC: "I feel good. Obviously we weren't competitive enough for the top nine, so we wanted a solid run in with no lifts, no drama, and put the car in the show.

“We weren't as quick as we wanted but we'll work on the car. If we are at the back, we need a good car in traffic. I think we are better in the race than qualifying pace. We have reasonable [race] pace. Yesterday we were a bit down and today we will also be a bit down as a team.

“We have more confidence. Ideally you want to start in front but let's see how we go.”

Fernando Alonso, Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet

Fernando Alonso, Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet

Photo by: Barry Cantrell / Motorsport Images

Team Penske drivers are consoling themselves with the same thought: that they have strong race setups. All four looked good on 1.3-bar boost on Wednesday and Thursday, with very strong average speeds over 30 laps (the approximate length of a green-flag stint. In addition, both Pagenaud and Castroneves appeared able to draft even strong Honda cars along the front straight, although they weren’t able to make the pass before the yard of bricks, which could prove crucial in late-race shootout.

Said Pagenaud: “It was an eventful qualifying session for sure. Certainly way too much sliding around, and certainly not fast enough either…

“We have a great racecar for the race. What bothers me the most is I wanted a fast time, and at Team Penske, that is what we expect.  So we will just have to work on it and make it better for the race next Sunday."

“We’ve all been really happy with the cars in race trim,” said Castroneves. “You hate to start that far back as you need to pass a lot of cars and use some strategy, but it can be done from there.”

“I’m not sure what else we could do out there today, I was wide open the whole time,” said Power. “We will just focus on the race and get back to race mode as a team.  We will keep the focus on that for tomorrow’s practice and work on the driveability of our car.

“This will be the furthest back I’ll probably ever started here, but you can win from anywhere in this race. It will be a long day, but we have a good Verizon 5G Edge Chevrolet. The guys have worked hard and I appreciate the effort. We will continue to work on the racecar and have some fun next weekend.”

Power will be starting on the inside of the eighth row, alongside yet another former Indy winner (powered by a Chevy) A.J. Foyt Racing’s Tony Kanaan.

Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet

Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Barry Cantrell / Motorsport Images

shares
comments
Indy 500 Qualifying: Andretti leads Fast Nine, bad day for Penske
Previous article

Indy 500 Qualifying: Andretti leads Fast Nine, bad day for Penske

Next article

Andretti: Last two laps of quali run are “what we get paid to do”

Andretti: Last two laps of quali run are “what we get paid to do”
Load comments
Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021 Prime

Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021

In an enthralling 2021 IndyCar campaign, the series bounced back from its COVID-19 truncated year prior and series sophomore Alex Palou defeated both the established order and his fellow young guns to clinch a maiden title. It capped a remarkable season with plenty of standout performers

IndyCar
Nov 22, 2021
How Marcus Ericsson finally unlocked his potential in IndyCar Prime

How Marcus Ericsson finally unlocked his potential in IndyCar

Marcus Ericsson enjoyed a breakout year in the IndyCar Series in 2021, winning twice and finishing sixth in points with Chip Ganassi Racing. How did he finally unlock the potential that was masked by five years of toil in Formula 1 with Caterham and Sauber/Alfa Romeo?

IndyCar
Nov 16, 2021
Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing win Prime

Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing win

Saturday, Oct. 16th, marks the 10th anniversary Dan Wheldon’s death. David Malsher-Lopez pays tribute, then asks Wheldon’s race engineer from 2011, Todd Malloy, to recall that magical second victory at the Indianapolis 500.

IndyCar
Oct 16, 2021
Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up? Prime

Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up?

Jack Harvey’s move to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing sparked plenty of debate, but their combined strength could prove golden, says David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Oct 15, 2021
Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting Prime

Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting

Kyle Kirkwood, the record-setting junior formula driver, sealed the Indy Lights championship last weekend. But despite an absurdly strong résumé and scholarship money, his next move is far from clear. By David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Oct 6, 2021
2021 IndyCar title is just the start for Ganassi's newest star Prime

2021 IndyCar title is just the start for Ganassi's newest star

Alex Palou has captured Chip Ganassi Racing's 14th IndyCar drivers' championship, and in truly stellar manner. David Malsher-Lopez explains what made the Palou-Ganassi combo so potent so soon.

IndyCar
Sep 28, 2021
Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar Prime

Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar

One of motorsport’s worst-kept secrets now out in the open, and Romain Grosjean has been confirmed as an Andretti Autosport IndyCar driver in 2022. It marks a remarkable turnaround after the abrupt end to his Formula 1 career, and is a firm indication of his commitment to challenge for the IndyCar Series title  

IndyCar
Sep 24, 2021
IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch Prime

IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch

The 2021 IndyCar silly season is one of the silliest of all, but it’s satisfying to see so many talented drivers in play – including Callum Ilott. David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Sep 11, 2021