IndyCar: Huertas, Wilson unable to get Houston sweep for Dale Coyne Racing

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Dale Coyne Racing pulled the upset in Saturday’s first race of the Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston. But problems for both Race 1 winner Carlos Huertas and Justin Wilson in today’s Race 2 kept them from earning a Space City sweep.

After claiming his first Verizon IndyCar Series win less than 24 hours before, Huertas was the first to bow out of today’s event.

The Colombian started 12th, but on Lap 3, he suddenly slowed on track and took his No. 18 Cafe de Colombia Honda off-course.

Race strategist Darren Crouser told NBCSN that the car simply “shut off” and Huertas himself didn’t have an exact reason for the failure.

“I feel really good for yesterday and today is disappointing, but it is impossible to finish every race without having at least one problem,” said Huertas, who suffered the first DNF of his rookie season.

“Hopefully, we don’t have any more. It was strange because the car just shut off completely. It must have been an electrical failure or something but we don’t know right now. All in all, I am proud of our accomplishments this weekend.”

That left Wilson to carry the DCR banner and despite having problems on restarts, he was able to put his No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda in the Top 5.

But shortly after a restart with 24 laps to go, Marco Andretti made slight contact with Wilson while racing for fifth. It sent Wilson into the tire barrier at Turn 9 to trigger another yellow.

IndyCar chose to take no action regarding the incident. Wilson was able to keep going but finished one lap down in 12th.

“We struggled a bit on restarts, so guys were all over the back of me,” Wilson said of his day. “I knew that if I could hang on for a couple of laps I would get going and be quick again.

“Marco tried to come down the inside and it wasn’t really going to happen. He tried to get out of it and he just tapped me into the wall. He came down and apologized and said ‘I didn’t mean to do that.’ It is just racing.

“I know it was just a mistake and it is a shame but we kept going on when we were a lap down and we were trying to salvage any points we can.”

Andretti also tweeted apologies to Wilson following the race.

https://twitter.com/MarcoAndretti/status/483379736542867456

Fernando Alonso confirmed for Toyota LMP1 test in Bahrain

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SAKHIR, Bahrain – Fernando Alonso will take his first step towards a possible entry to the 24 Hours of Le Mans when he tests an LMP1 car for Toyota on Sunday at the Bahrain International Circuit.

McLaren Formula 1 driver and two-time world champion Alonso is hoping to appear at Le Mans next year as part of his bid to become just the second man in history to complete the ‘Triple Crown of Motorsport’.

Alonso has already completed one leg by winning the Monaco Grand Prix twice, and made his debut at the Indianapolis 500 in May with McLaren-Honda-Andretti, retiring late on due to an engine failure.

Momentum is building for Alonso to make his Le Mans debut with Toyota in 2018, starting with a first sports car run-out in the FIA World Endurance Championship’s end-of-season rookie test in Bahrain on Sunday.

Alonso arrived in Bahrain on Saturday to watch the six-hour WEC race as an invited guest of the Bahraini royal family, with his participation in the test being confirmed after the race.

“We are very excited that Fernando will test our car. When he visited us in Cologne everyone who met him could sense his enthusiasm and passion for our sport; he is a true racer,” Toyota Gazoo Racing team president Hisatake Murata said.

“We very much respect his interest in different forms of motorsport and it is a pleasure to offer him this chance to drive a hybrid LMP1 car. It will be interesting to hear his feedback on the TS050 Hybrid.”

Alonso will share running in the Toyota car with 19-year-old Thomas Laurent, who received a test as a prize for his star display during his rookie WEC campaign this year, while regular Toyota racer Mike Conway will also complete laps.