USAC: Christopher Bell wins Turkey Night Grand Prix; Kyle Larson finishes 3rd

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A wild Turkey Night Grand Prix that featured four cautions and two red flags ended with Christopher Bell taking the checkered flag at Perris (Calif.) Auto Speedway, becoming the latest winner of one of midget racing’s most revered events.

Bell was also in contention for the USAC Honda Midget Series title last night, but ultimately lost out to teammate Rico Abreu, who locked up the title with a fifth-place finish behind Bell, Darren Hagen, Sprint Cup star Kyle Larson, and Zach Daum.

But joining the likes of A.J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones, and Tony Stewart as a Turkey Night winner had to have softened that blow for Bell.

“This place was not really my favorite in my first couple trips here, but tonight the track came to me and was definitely to my liking,” Bell said afterwards. “Once it got up pretty high and slick underneath it, I really got into a rhythm.

“It’s great to add this race to our list and get my name on there with all the great guys who have won it before me. We had a shot at the championship tonight, but Rico got the job done. It’s a great accomplishment for our team and caps off an amazing year.”

Abreu, a 22-year-old from Rutherford, California, ended up winning the USAC Midget title over Bell by 10 points, with Tracy Hines (-46) finishing third in the standings. Abreu won four races on the dirt this year in USAC National Midget competition.

Larson, who cut his teeth on the dirt before ascending to the heights of NASCAR, avoided disaster after getting into the back of a lapped car while running sixth. He fell back into the pack, but made a late charge to score a podium finish.

“…After I got into the lapped car and went to the work area, it just was so much better,” he said. “They said they didn’t even really do anything, but we were really good. I would have loved a caution once I got to third, but I was so happy to get a podium. I thought I was gonna stall out about sixth.”

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.”