Paulie Harraka makes embarrasing rookie mistake even before Sprint Cup race debut

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With tight turns and limited passing areas, beating and banging is expected on a road course. But Paulie Harraka and Alex Kennedy took things to a whole other level in their respective Sprint Cup debuts Sunday.

Now, if they could only have hit the rewind button instead of each other.

Harraka, who comes from New Jersey, the same state as Sunday’s race winner, Martin Truex Jr., couldn’t have had a more embarrassing start to his Cup career.

Harraka didn’t even wait to make the mistake on the race track. He plowed into the rear of Kennedy’s stopped car – while both cars were still on pit road, waiting to roll out onto the track for the two parade laps prior to the start of the race!

To be fair, it might have been rookie jitters. Or maybe Harraka confused the gas pedal with the brake.

That, or maybe Harraka was texting and didn’t look up until it was too late.

After all, there’s not much of a better explanation, given how Harraka put the pedal to the metal at the worst possible time, causing major damage to both drivers’ vehicles.

Because cars were bunched up rolling off pit road, David Reutimann was forced to stop as the parade of cars in front of him slowed down abruptly.

Kennedy stopped, too.

But like someone who rear-ends a driver stopped in front of him at a red light, Harraka just kept on going until BAM!

Kennedy’s car definitely was worse for the wear. After repairs were made, he managed to complete just 30 laps of the 110-lap event before calling it a day with a 40th-place finish.

Harraka’s crew, meanwhile, was able to repair much of the damage on his own car and he wound up finishing 39th in the race, 21 laps off the lead lap.

Fernando Alonso will decide this summer whether to pursue F1 again

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Fernando Alonso said he will determine by this summer if he would consider a return to Formula One next season.

After announcing Tuesday that he will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May with Arrow McLaren Racing SP, Alonso said “right now the Indy 500 will take all of my concentration” but left the door open for F1 in 2021.

“In my case, probably during the summer period, I’ll make a decision on 2021 if Formula One is still appealing to me,” Alonso told IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview (watch the video above). “The 2021 rules (in F1) are definitely a step forward, and hopefully things can be more mixed and not only three teams capable of winning races. So all this factors into play. I may consider that possibility.”

Alonso won consecutive Formula One championships in 2005-06 with Renault. He has 32 victories in an F1 career that started in 2001 and also includes stints at Ferrari and McLaren.

His last victory on the circuit was May 12, 2013 in Barcelona. He is winless in his most recent 110 starts, including the past 77 races with McLaren in 2015-18.

The Guardian recently reported that McLaren CEO Zak Brown said Alonso wouldn’t be returning to F1 with the team.

Alonso also told Diffey that returning to F1 from a two-season absence wouldn’t necessarily be linked to McLaren’s performance.

“I think they did well last year, and hopefully they make another step forward and close to the top three because they deserve it and are a fantastic team,” he said.

Though he is optimistic about more parity, Alonso said six-time champion Lewis Hamilton should be a favorite for the 2020 title based on preseason testing in which Mercedes turned heads with a new steering system.

“It seemed Mercedes is still quite competitive,” Alonso said. “They show enormous potential on the development side and on the progress from one year to next. Formula One is impossible to predict because many things happen in season.

“At the starting point, (Mercedes) are the favorites. When you have Lewis in the car and Mercedes with the potential they have, they have to be No. 1 probably.”