Alonso charges to fifth in Hungary, sending McLaren into summer break on a high

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Fernando Alonso took full advantage of the misfortune of others to finish the Hungarian Grand Prix in fifth place, marking McLaren’s best result of the season so far.

Since joining forces with Honda at the beginning of the 2015 season, McLaren has struggled to battle inside the top ten, scoring just five points in the opening nine races of the year.

The team’s rut looked set to continue in Hungary after Alonso suffered a problem on his car in qualifying, leaving him 15th on the grid, one place ahead of teammate Jenson Button.

However, as a number of drivers up the field hit trouble, Alonso managed to move up the order and eventually cross the line in fifth place for ten points.

“This was a very good race, and fifth position at the finish is a nice little present for the whole team, particularly as we’re not as competitive as we’d like right now,” Alonso said.

“On the calendar, there are a handful of circuits where we expected our performance to be better – Monaco, Singapore, and here in Hungary, so we knew we needed to make the most of today.

“Critically, we did just that: it was a chaotic race, and we took advantage of every opportunity that came our way. These points are a good way to send the whole team into the summer break, but we need to further maximize our chances in the second half of the season.”

Button followed his teammate’s lead by fighting through the field to finish ninth and secure McLaren’s first double points finish of the season.

“Fernando did a great job today,” Button said. “Fitting the option tire for the final stint was the right decision for him; I didn’t stop for tyres under the safety car whereas pretty much everyone around me did.

“That decision made it very difficult for me, because my used primes were pretty old by the end of the race, and there were plenty of faster cars around me running fresher options.

“Still, it was a fun race, and it’s great to get points ahead of the summer break. The accidents and penalties certainly helped us, but we still did a good job out there today.

“This is a step forward for us, but we’ll need to take another step if we’re to repeat this sort of result. Equally, the next two races – at Spa and Monza – will probably be difficult for us, but it’s good to see we’re making progress.”

Christopher Bell survives caution-filled Chili Bowl Prelim

TeeJay Crawford
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Christopher Bell survived the most caution-filled Feature of the week to win Thursday’s preliminary night at the 33rd Annual Chili Bowl. His ability to hold the lead on restarts helped lock Bell into his seventh Saturday A-Feature since 2013.

“I pretty much suck on restarts. I do better when I get into a rhythm,” said Christopher Bell on twitter.

Bell started the feature in third place behind Danny Stratton and Jerry Coons Jr. He took the lead on the first official lap of the race, but not until after two Lap 1 cautions.

The Oklahoma native held the lead through the remaining 24 laps and eight cautions until being challenged by Shane Golobic and CJ Leary on the final laps. Golobic briefly made it past him though Turns 3 and 4 of the final lap. Bell regained control in 1 and 2 to claim the checkers.

“It was a lot busier than what I wanted them to be. Shane definitely made a race out of it and I hope the last four laps were a good show. It was a lot of fun … well it was fun because I won but if I hadn’t won it wouldn’t have been much fun,” Bell said regarding the final laps.

Golobic earned the second transfer into Saturday’s A-Main after starting to the outside of Bell.

Leary completed the podium with the pole sitter Stratton finished fourth.

Josh Most battled through the B after a hard crash in his heat. He rebounded to transfer to the A and drove from 22nd to fifth.

With the throng of cautions at the start and finish of the race, the goal quickly became survival. Only 15 of 24 entries completed the full feature. Notable DNF’s included Ryan Bernal who started fifth, Coons, who started on the front row and Thomas Meseraull in 15th.

NASCAR’s Justin Allgaier finished 13th and will have a long day ahead of him on Saturday.

Friday Jan. 18 will be the final Qualifying night for the 33rd annual Chili Bowl Nationals.

Thursday’s Results

1. Christopher Bell
2. Shane Golobic
3. CJ Leary
4. Danny Stratton
5. Josh Most
6. Austin Brown
7. Tracy Hines
8. Casey Shuman
9. Kyle Cummins
10. Andrew Felker
11. Austin O’Dell
12. Seth Carlson
13. Justin Allgaier
14. Chase Johnson
15. Johnny Herrera
16. Ryan Bernal
17. Jerry Coons Jr.
18. Matt Sherrell
19. Thomas Meseraull
20. Jake Morgan
21. Andrew Deal
22. Kevin Bayer
23. Kaleb Currie
24. Joe B. Miller