INDIANAPOLIS – Who would have thought that heading into the Month of May that Fernando Alonso and James Hinchcliffe would be battling in the Last Row Shootout to make the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 (11 a.m. ET/NBC/INDYCAR Radio Network) while Pippa Mann with Clauson Marshall Racing and Ben Hanley with DragonSpeed would in turn lock themselves in?
But, here we are with both Hinchcliffe and Alonso to go along with Sage Karam, Kyle Kaiser, Pato O’Ward and Max Chilton now battling for the final three spots in the field for next Sunday’s big race.
Two things are clear here – Karam and Chilton just don’t have the speed while the other four have all crashed this past week themselves. In fact, out of the five crashes this week, four of the drivers in those incidents failed to make it to the top 30 on Saturday afternoon.
For Alonso, they’ve struggled from the get go. They had either mechanical or electrical issues literally in all but one day including the April 24 test. Combine that with a crash on Wednesday for him and you get what has been a dismal month for Alonso and McLaren.
Alonso, was visibly frustrated on Saturday basically calling McLaren out for their struggles. He noted that after his first qualifying run that he honestly didn’t think that his team was ready for this challenge this year. He also said that there was nothing further that he could do in the car to gain more speed.
Alonso, made five attempts on Saturday, with two of which causing him to be bumped. He later said that he was frustrated to have to qualify so many times because he just didn’t think it was in the cards today.
James Hinchcliffe nearly flips on Saturday in his first qualifying attempt at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – INDYCAR Media Site
For Hinchcliffe, he crashed on his first attempt, badly damaging his No. 5 Honda. The Canadian was obviously upset but his Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports were able to have a spare superspeedway car not only ready, but in line to hit the track in less than two hours.
Unfortunately, Hinchcliffe made multiple attempts but none of them were quick enough to get him into the top 30. Now, he’s in danger of not making the show for a second straight year.
Carlin is also in a disaster with both Pato O’Ward and Max Chilton on the outside looking in too. O’Ward, is driving Chilton’s road course car after he crashed his primary on Thursday. Chilton, just hasn’t had the speed all month as it looks like at least one of them may not make the field.
What about Sage Karam? His car just isn’t fast right now. He said he was literally flat out all the way around but his car doesn’t have the speed to make it in. He made five attempts himself but none of them were in the 227 mph range to get in.
Then there’s Kyle Kaiser. This team had the speed to make it in originally but when he crashed on Fast Friday, it set this team way back. While they had another tub, they had to literally work through the night to get the spare car prepared to hit the track on Saturday. Luckily, they were remarkable able to practice as early as Saturday morning, but the speed just wasn’t there for Kaiser either.
The six of them are so close though making the Shootout must see. We could see two full time teams not making the cut as well.