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After making run at Indy 500 pole, Alonso to start fifth

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso spent will start fifth in his Indianapolis 500 debut next weekend.

He finished with a four-lap average of 231.300 mph in qualifying Sunday – after making an engine change.

The Spaniard was the first driver to top 231 on all four laps. It’s the first time he’s competed on an oval.

“He’s proving why he’s one of the best in the world,” Andretti Autosport teammate Alexander Rossi said afterward.

Rossi ended Alonso’s hopes of becoming the first rookie to win the pole.

For a few minutes, Alonso was on top of the IndyCar world.

As the third of the nine drivers to make an attempt in the pole shootout, he became the first driver all weekend with a final speed over 231. That was the fastest qualifying run since Helio Castroneves won the pole in 2002 at 231.725.

It only survived through one more attempt.

Rossi went 231.487 to briefly take the top spot. That number held up through one more attempt and then New Zealand’s Scott Dixon’s before took the pole with the fastest qualifying speed (232.164) in 21 years.

But for Alonso, whose crew had only two hours to install a new engine and put the car back together before making the technical line deadline, it was an incredible afternoon.

“There’s nothing really to say about it because everything felt normal,” Alonso said when asked about the engine.

It sure didn’t give him any trouble.

Neither did Indy’s usually tricky track.

After only his eighth day on an oval, Alonso managed to put himself in contention for next weekend’s race win – with a chance to claim the second jewel in racing’s triple crown from the middle of the second row.

He was hoping to become the first rookie to win the Indy pole since Teo Fabi in 1983.

Former IndyCar driver Tony Stewart started from the pole as a rookie in 1996 after Scott Brayton, the pole-winner, was killed in a practice crash.

More AP auto racing: http://racing.ap.org

Holmatro, INDYCAR renew partnership in five-year extension

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Holmatro, a long-time partner of INDYCAR and title sponsor of the Holmatro Safety Team, have renewed a long-standing partnership that will see Holmatro and INDYCAR continue their partnership in a five-year contract extension.

“Holmatro has been a trusted partner and supplier in Indy car racing for more than 20 years,” said¬†president of competition and operations Jay Frye. “Holmatro’s growth parallels some of the great strides made in safety for INDYCAR drivers and teams. We’re pleased to see this partnership continue, as it is a great benefit to everyone in the paddock.”

Holmatro’s relationship with INDYCAR dates back to 1991, when they first supplied tools to the safety team of the CART sanctioned PPG IndyCar World Series. Holmatro branding will continue to be featured on the firesuits, vehicles, and transporters of INDYCAR’s safety team throughout the agreement.

“Holmatro is extremely pleased to extend our partnership with INDYCAR for another five years,” said Tony Barboza, general manager for Holmatro. “We’re extremely proud to be affiliated with the premier on-track safety team in the world. Members of the safety team serve on their home fire departments when not at INDYCAR events and, like them, we believe in constant improvement and innovation. When the race is for life, you can count on the INDYCAR Safety Team and Holmatro rescue tools.”

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