If you disregard Dale Coyne hiring a racist shitbag and the series selling to Roger Penske, the biggest story out of IndyCar these last few years has to be Fernando Alonso running the big one, going for a motorsport triple crown, racing in the Indy 500. The Spanish F1 and Le Mans champ has again committed to trying his hand at running, despite his first and second attempts having devolved into shitshows.
Despite everything having played against him in the past—Honda engine issues in 2017 and McLaren’s everything issues in 2019—I would guess that he’ll have a half-assed decent chance of at least making the field this year, if not finally finishing the damn race. Schmidt Peterson has attempted to qualify 39 cars in the Indy 500 since 2001, and has suffered one withdrawal (for Hinchcliffe’s suspension failure-induced hospital stay in 2015) and three DNQs (Hinch in 2018, plus Jimmy Kite and Anthony Lazzaro in 2002).
So unlike last year’s qualifying debacle that saw ‘Nando knocked out by a couple one hundredths of a mile per hour, Arrow McLaren SP should have the speed to make it into the race.
Also unlike Fernando’s attempt in 2017, it seems that he won’t be running toward the front, either. SP has an average finishing position of around 20th at the end of the 500 mile race. Admittedly that average is brought down a bit by twice having the driver first out of the race, but the team does have five top-ten finishes with a career high of 6th in 2002 with Richie Hearn.
Alonso is known for driving relatively unruly cars to higher positions than should be possible, but I won’t be going into this August’s Indy race with an expectation for him to be able to fight the Penske or Ganassi teams. Crazier things have happened, especially at Indy, but I’ll keep my excitement tempered for now.
A livery reveal tells us almost nothing about the car, the team, or the driver, but it’s an excuse for me to talk about Alonso. I’m cautiously optimistic that he’ll do fine. It’s fun that this livery won’t be the McLaren Papaya Orange that we expected, trading that out for nifty mix of white, orange, and teal with a bit of blue-green thrown in. It’s nice to see pops of color on the grid. This one is a little haphazard, but it wins me over with a teal windscreen support. That’s very good.