Fernando Alonso Qualifies for the Indy 500 in 5th
Alonso proves quick; Scott Dixon puts Ganassi Honda on pole
With a four-lap average of 231.300 miles per hour, Fernando Alonso qualified on Sunday in fifth place for the 101st Indianapolis 500. The McLaren-Honda Formula 1 driver will start in the middle of the second row in his Indy 500 debut. That performance answers any lingering questions about his ability as an Indy “rookie.” It also places him in good position to be the second consecutive F1 veteran and rookie to win the 500-mile race.
The successful qualifying comes after a whirlwind month that sent shockwaves through the international racing world. No current F1 driver has ditched Monaco Grand Prix, itself one of the world’s most prestigious races, for Indianapolis. However, with a dud of an F1 car this year, McLaren and Honda expended effort to give Alonso a chance at Indy. When the green flag flies, Alonso will be driving one of six Andretti Autosport-prepared Dallara-Hondas.
Alonso’s #29 car wears orange that pays homage to the successful McLaren Indy cars of the 1970s. The two-time Formula 1 champion aced his rookie-orientation test at Indy just days before the Spanish Grand Prix. After a disappointing result in Barcelona, he flew back to Indianapolis to continue preparation. His testing program included extended running with teammates to get a feel for the draft, one of the key aspects of racing at Indy.
Saturday qualifying put Alonso into the Fast 9 with the seventh-quickest average. That locked in a spot in the front three rows On Sunday, his 231.3 mph run edified his position between Andretti teammate Takuma Sato and J.R. Hildebrand of Ed Carpenter Racing on Row 2.
Overall, Hondas make up make up six of the first nine positions. Scott Dixon claimed his third Indy 500 pole for Chip Ganassi Racing, who switched to Honda in 2017. Defending winner and Andretti driver Alexander Rossi qualified third on the outside of the first row. After Sato and Alonso on the second row, Ganassi’s Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti (driving for his dad Michael’s team) qualified 7th and 8th, respectively, on the third row. Additionally, positions 10 through 17 are all Hondas. That suggests that the Big H might have the upper hand this year at the Brickyard.