Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi, NASCAR’s Kurt and Kyle Busch added to Race of Champions

Leave a comment

Defending Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi, as well as NASCAR racing brothers Kurt and Kyle Busch will be among those taking part in the Race of Champions Nation’s Cup on January 22 and 23 in Miami, it was announced Monday.

The race will be held at Marlins Park, home of Major League Baseball’s Miami Marlins. This will be the first time the race — which brings together racing champions from numerous forms of motorsports including NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula One and others — will be held in the United States.

It will also be the first ROC since 2015, when Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel defeated 9-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen in London, while F1’s David Coulthard and endurance racer Alex Buncombe finished as semifinalists.

Rossi will head the largest contingent of drivers from any one series, as the Verizon IndyCar Series will also have Ryan Hunter-Reay, Gabby Chaves, Juan Pablo Montoya and Tony Kanaan also taking part in the ROCNC.

Competitors will race against each other on a specially prepared road course in identically matched vehicles.

“It’s really cool to be included in the 2017 Race of Champions,” Kyle Busch said in a media release. “You look at the list of drivers and their backgrounds and it’s pretty impressive. I love to race anything I can, so I’m really excited to be heading to Miami and getting behind the wheel of some different types of vehicles in order to compete against the best guys in the world.”

Among those entered in the competition and the series they’ll represent are:

IndyCar: 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi, 2-time Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya, 2014 Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan, 2015 IndyCar Rookie of the Year Gabby Chaves.

NASCAR: 2004 Nextel Cup champion Kurt Busch, 2015 Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch.

Formula One: 4-time champion Sebastian Vettel, 11-time F1 race winner Felipe Massa, 2009 F1 champ Jenson Button, 13-time F1 race winner David Coulthard.

Other: 9-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Tom Kristensen, 2-time FIA World RallyCross champ Petter Solberg, multi-motorsports series champion Travis Pastrana, 2-time Global RallyCross Champ Scott Speed.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Reports: Fernando Alonso to test on September 5 at Barber Motorsports Park

Getty Images
Leave a comment

According to a number of media stories Thursday afternoon and evening, two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso will reportedly test an Indy car at Barber Motorsports Park on Wednesday, September 5.

The 2.38-mile permanent road course just outside Birmingham, Alabama, per those stories, will play host to Alonso as he reportedly tests with IndyCar’s Andretti Autosport team and Honda.

Honda Performance Development (HPD) President Art St. Cyr issued a statement late Thursday afternoon about Alonso’s reported upcoming test:

“Fernando Alonso is one of the premier racing drivers of this generation, and we very much enjoyed working with him at the 2017 Indianapolis 500.

“He has shown that he can be very competitive right off the bat, and it would be great for IndyCar if he were to decide to drive here full-time after his F1 career. Having Alonso as a driver would be an obvious benefit for any team or manufacturer.”

However, St. Cyr’s statement also included a reference to Honda potentially not being able to field a new engine for Alonso in the IndyCar series in 2019.

“Our engine lease agreements are made between HPD and specific teams,” St. Cyr’s statement said. “Several of our current IndyCar Series teams already have agreements in place with HPD for the 2019 season, and we have been operating near maximum capacity all year long to properly provide powerful, reliable engines for all of our teams.

“We have had discussions with several current and potential teams for 2019, and those discussions are ongoing.”

Rumors of Alonso potentially racing for a hybrid operation that would include Andretti Autosport, McLaren and Harding Racing have been picking up speed. But there’s one potential major hurdle: Harding’s Dallara’s are powered by Chevrolet engines.

Alonso announced earlier this week that he’d be retiring from Formula One at season’s end, saying he’s looking forward to new adventures.

Because of his loyalty to McLaren, it’s increasingly looking as if Alonso comes to IndyCar, McLaren will have some involvement – although perhaps not as much as it potentially could do if it went all-in with a full-time effort immediately in 2019.

There is no word whether Chevrolet or Harding Racing could potentially be on hand at the Sept. 5 test at BMP, even in just an observation role.

Since being part of the winning team at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, Alonso’s desire to become only the second driver to win motorsport’s triple crown – the Monaco Grand Prix, Le Mans and the Indianapolis 500 – has increased exponentially.

He’s already won the first two; just a Indy 500 triumph remains on his bucket list.

The late Graham Hill is the only driver to have accomplished the triple crown feat to date.

Alonso, who turned 37 on July 29, has made just one prior IndyCar start, in the 2017 Indianapolis 500. He led 27 laps of the 200-lap event and appeared to have a car strong enough to win before it suffered engine failure with 21 laps remaining.

Instead of what likely could have been a top-five finish, if not a win, Alonso’s first foray into IndyCar racing ended disappointingly with a 24th-place finish.

In addition to being courted by IndyCar, NASCAR has also jumped into the Alonso sweepstakes, saying he’d be welcome to race in the 2019 Daytona 500.

Follow @JerryBonkowski