NASCAR: Dale Jr. hails ‘Dinger, Almirola after they’re eliminated from Chase

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As you’d figure, neither A.J. Allmendinger or Aric Almirola were happy after being eliminated from the Chase for the Sprint Cup yesterday at Dover International Speedway.

Allmendinger was slightly above the Top 12 cutoff going into the race but lost the final advance position to Kasey Kahne by a mere two points after finishing 13th.

Almirola, on the other hand, entered Dover 10 points behind the cutoff and his 16th-place finish was not enough to save his championship hopes.

Following the race, Allmendinger was blunt, saying that he and his team “sucked” throughout the proceedings. Almirola settled for “sad” and “disappointed.”

Nonetheless, it bears noting that making the post-season was far from a given for them both when this 2014 campaign started.

And yet they made it happen – Almirola through a soggy win in July at Daytona, ‘Dinger through a narrow victory over Marcos Ambrose at Watkins Glen in August.

They certainly deserve some congratulations for that. Perhaps Dale Earnhardt Jr. recognized that following yesterday’s race.

And so, NASCAR’s most popular driver did his best to cheer up the Chase’s two resident underdogs in a couple of classy tweets:

Earnhardt wasn’t exactly thrilled after Dover, either. He advanced to the Contender Round, but finished a sub-par 17th.

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.”