Fernando Alonso crashed in the final hour of Thursday’s practice session, a setback in his bid to conquer the Indianapolis 500.
The Spanish driver crashed into turn four after his Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet fell on the asphalt portion that divides the track from the grassy area at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and was projected against the retaining wall. His damaged vehicle was towed to the pit area for an early afternoon finish.
Alonso was sixth on the speed chart at impact. He finished the day in ninth position.
“This is how it is,” Alonso said. “Fortunately it happened today and not on (race) day. We will learn from this. There is nothing to do today and tomorrow we will start again ”.
This is Alonso’s third attempt to win the final race of what might be called the “triple crown” of motorsport. The two-time Formula One champion has had victories at the Monaco Grand Prix and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Indianapolis being the only competition missing from the trifecta.
He had a featured vehicle in 2017 when he raced at Indianapolis for Andretti Autosport, but an engine failure ended his chance to win. Last year he failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 with McLaren.
In 2019 he also crashed in the practice of the Indy 500 and this had an impact on several setbacks that the McLaren team had in its preparation. The car didn’t have the proper shade of orange and Alonso lost valuable practice time while correcting the color.
Alonso’s crash with 50 minutes remaining in Thursday’s session was the first impact on the track since it opened for practice on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, five-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon finished as the leader in the speed table at the end of the day with a lap of 226,192 miles per hour with Chip Ganassi Racing. Takuma Sato followed with 225,693 and Marco Andretti with 225,249.
Thus, Honda took over the top three positions.
Conor Daly was fourth at 225,116 miles per hour and was the fastest Chevrolet.
There is one more day of practice before qualifying. It’s called “fast Friday,” because IndyCar provides teams with a boost in horsepower to improve speed. Defending champion Simon Pagenaud said the Penske team’s plan on Thursday was to work on handling.
He added that they will already worry about speed during practice on speedy Friday.
“I have no interest in standing out and getting big numbers,” Pagenaud said. “I have no interest in that. I know I can win the race and I know what I need. That is more important than standing out and having great numbers ”.