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.

Bob Fernley announced as president of McLaren IndyCar

Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images
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Bob Fernley will bring his experience as former deputy team principal at Force India F1 to McLaren Racing’s IndyCar effort in 2019.

Fernley will report directly to McLaren Racing’s CEO Zak Brown.

“Heading back to the Brickyard will be a very special experience for me,” Fernley said at IndyCar.com. “I am proud to be leading this McLaren project and team. The 500 is a hell of a challenge and we have incredibly strong competitors to overcome if we’re to be successful. We will need to prepare well for the month of May and that work starts now.”

Fernley’s appointing come of the heels of last week’s announcement that McLaren will create a brand new team to compete in the 2019 Indy 500.

MORE: Fernando Alonso to return to Indy 500 in 2019

For now, Fernley’s responsibility is to create an entry that is capable of allowing two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso to win the Indy 500 in just his second start. But speculation has been widespread that the entry will be a jumping off point for a much broader involvement in IndyCar.

In 2017, Alonso qualified on the middle of row two (fifth), led 27 laps and succumbed to mechanical failure. His effort was impressive enough to be name Rookie of the Year for the Indy 500.

“Bob is a fantastic operator and someone I respect greatly,” Brown said. “His experience and leadership will be essential for us on this project. He is particularly talented at putting effective teams together and extracting maximum performance with finite resources. The Indy 500 is no easy race and Bob’s is a key role, so I’m delighted he’s on board.”