INDIANAPOLIS – The Indy Gods gave us what we wanted right? The thrill of victory and agony of defeat? We all had to know that when Kyle Kaiser’s No. 32 Chevrolet crashed in Turn 3 on Fast Friday that they were going to be the last qualifier of the Last Row Shootout and have a chance to knock out of all drivers Fernando Alonso right?
We also knew that Alonso and McLaren Racing were struggling and knew it would be tight for them to make it in? We knew that Juncos was on a shoestring budget and would go from at first the feel good story of the month to the ultimate storyline of the month if they could get in right?
What if their way paved to get in would be to knock off the big guys at McLaren and Alonso? That’s the storyline of the year in the series.
Well, that’s exactly what happened.
Fernando Alonso was the third qualifier of the Last Row shootout. He had a four-lap average of 227.353 mph in his No. 66 Chevrolet. Should make it in right?
Well, Sage Karam went next and was at 227.740 mph. That locked him into the show. Then it was Pato O’Ward’s turn. He wasn’t fast enough. That left it as Kaiser vs. Alonso for the final spot for the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 (11 a.m. ET/NBC/INDYCAR Radio Network).
Just how it was supposed to be drawn up.
Kaiser’s first lap was 39.5222 seconds. Alonso’s was 39.5123-seconds. Then came Lap 2. Kaiser was at 39.5744 seconds with Alonso 39.5990 seconds. It was practically even at that point.
39.6059-seconds vs. 39.6236-seconds.
Not only was it Kaiser vs. Alonso, it was coming down to the last lap.
Kaiser (39.6286-seconds) was slower than Alonso (39.6091-seconds) on that lap but his four lap average was better (227.372 mph vs. 227.353 mph).
Laps 2 and 3 helped Kaiser beat Alonso for the final spot in the year’s biggest event.
It was the ultimate David vs. Goliath. Juncos, has a little over 40 employees combined. McLaren has hundreds.
What a redemption story for Kaiser and Juncos. They have nothing compared to McLaren and the team that lost their two sponsors 24 hours before opening day of practice crashed and had very minimal spare parts, put their car into the show over the team that had all the resources at their disposal.