Alonso’s Triple Crown Bid Boosts Arrow McLaren SP Team
Fernando Alonso is competing in the Indianapolis 500 this year for one reason: To become the second driver, after Graham Hill, to ever win motorsports ‘Triple Crown.’ The Triple Crown consists of winning the Monaco Grand Prix, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the Indianapolis 500.
“I am a racer and the Indy 500 is the greatest race in the world,” said the two-time Formula One World Champion when it was announced he would join the Arrow McLaren SP team for the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500. “I have maximum respect for this race and everyone who competes in it and all I want to do is race against them and give my best, as always.”
Alonso has won both the Monaco Grand Prix, the crown jewel of Formula One’s calendar, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans twice. The final chapter needed is a victory at, arguably the most difficult race of them all, the Indianapolis 500.
While the Spaniard has been making his own preparations ahead of his second Indianapolis 500 start, the Arrow McLaren SP team has been developing and steadily enhancing their program to compete for top honors in the IndyCar Series. Co-owner Sam Schmidt is confident that Alonso will feel the benefits of such progression on Sunday as he looks to complete his dream of winning the Triple Crown this Sunday.
“We’ve been building for this moment for quite some time,” said Schmidt. “He’s someone you know that is a true professional of the sport, a two-time world champion. That says it all. It is a great opportunity for our two young guys [O’Ward and Askew] to be able to ride on his coattails for about ten days. What we have seen in just a few days is that he is very much here to win. I can’t wait to see him in action on race day.”
While Alonso is focused on his drive for motorsports Triple Crown, his young teammates, Pato O’Ward and Oliver Askew, have a unique opportunity to learn from a racing legend as they continue to build their careers in the IndyCar Series.
“I think it just raises the game for everybody,” explained O’Ward, who will start 15th on Sunday. “Having a driver with Fernando’s caliber is huge, not just for the team, but for mine and Oliver’s development. He’s got so much experience with so many different cars. Even though we’re all rookies, the experience that we’ve all had in the past definitely will help the team in many different ways.”
Being able to tap into Alonso’s experience is a key area of focus for the Arrow McLaren SP organization, looking to continue their development in this 2020 season.
“He’s a total pro,” said Alonso’s race engineer Craig Hampson. “He’s a two-time Formula One World Champion and often regarded as one of the best drivers in the world, and you can see why. He’s very detail-oriented, he’s super-focused, and the feedback on the car is great. He’s very calm. He’s a good test driver. He’s very willing to put up with us trying different things and just going out and pounding laps. It’s been a pleasant experience. I definitely think if we give him a good car, he can go out and win the race.”
Winning the race brings us full circle to Alonso’s purpose for being at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in August. The native of Oviedo, Spain, has his work cut out for him. He begins his quest to complete the motorsports Triple Crown from the middle of row nine on Sunday. If he is able to cross the finish line ahead of the other 32 drivers, he will become the first driver to ever win from the 26th starting position.
While qualifying didn’t go as planned, Alonso is excited with the setup of the race car that he will pilot on Sunday.
“Another positive day, happy with today’s practice,” said Alonso after Sunday’s two-and-a-half-hour practice. “We tested a lot of things in the tick box to check off and we are happy with the answers. We will take a good look at the data, but I feel we made a good step forward again on the car – that’s always the target for each session out on track.”
The Arrow McLaren SP team will look to push for victory at the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 this Sunday, August 23. The race will broadcast live starting at 1 p.m. ET on NBC with the green flag dropping at 2:30 p.m. ET.