NASCAR: HScott announces second car for Michael Annett

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HScott Motorsports will expand to a two-car operation in the Sprint Cup Series this year with the addition of second-year driver Michael Annett.

Last week, Motor Racing Network announcer Dave Moody had reported on his blog that Annett would be going to HScott and take his Pilot/Flying J Truck Stops sponsorship with him.

Indeed, the team confirmed today on the NASCAR Media Tour in Charlotte that such backing would be with Annett, who joins forces with fellow sophomore driver Justin Allgaier.

Neither a crew chief or a car number for Annett was announced.

“We’re really excited to have Michael on board and looking forward to working with him, getting to know him, and putting some equipment under him that can really showcase his talent,” said team owner Harry Scott Jr., who added that his goal is to have the team rise into the Top 20 in Cup points this year.

“Having an additional car is gonna provide some economies of scale for us, and basically double our resources and double our data points. I’ve had multiple conversations with [Allgaier’s crew chief/team competition director] Steve Addington about his plan and he’s got a solid plan to make the best of having two cars this year and utilize our resources to get even better.”

Annett noted that as fellow rookies, he and Allgaier were initially parked together in the garages last year. But as Allgaier and HScott began to pick up the pace in the second half of 2014 (eight Top-20 finishes in Allgaier’s final 15 starts), Annett saw Allgaier get “further and further away from me to ask questions.”

That made an impression on Annett, and when a late-developing chance came along to join Allgaier and HScott, he took it.

“I think I got into the sport about the time [team owner] Harry [Scott] was getting into it,” Annett said. “And to see what every organization he’s come into – whether it was K&N [Pro Series], XFINITY, [Camping World] Truck Series – it doesn’t take very long at all for them to have success and I think we saw that last year with having a brand-new Cup team.

“To be able to jump right into an organization that I feel like was really on a roll last year and is gonna keep going and keep getting better is just a huge opportunity for me.”

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.”