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Another qualifying, another engine issue for Alonso in Bahrain

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Fernando Alonso has dominated the headlines this week with news of his shock debut in the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, in a jointly entered car between McLaren, Honda and Andretti Autosport.

But back in his day job in the McLaren Honda Formula 1 car, Alonso has had yet more mechanical woes, despite making it into Q2 in qualifying Saturday night for Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix (10:30 a.m. ET, CNBC).

Alonso was unable to set a lap in Q2 after getting through in 15th in Q1, which was only made possible by Carlos Sainz Jr. stopping on track at the final corner in his Toro Rosso at the end of Q1 on a lap which would have been quick enough to advance.

With yet another engine change coming as a result, even though Alonso would be due to start 15th he’ll likely start lower than that.

“Yeah we had a problem in the power unit. It blew up. So we will have to change it for tomorrow,” Alonso told NBCSN after the session.

“Obviously there’s no time to calibrate, there’s no warm up or anything we can test. So it’ll be a tough race. We’ll see what we can do. It’s not an ideal situation. Let’s see what happens tomorrow.”

This was the second engine issue of the weekend for the team after Stoffel Vandoorne’s car required an engine change from Friday after practice.

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BREAKING NEWS: Phoenix will not be on IndyCar schedule in 2019

The sun has set on IndyCar racing at Phoenix, at least for the foreseeable future. Photo: Getty Images
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The sun has set on INDYCAR continuing to race at ISM Raceway (formerly Phoenix International Raceway).

ISM Raceway president Bryan R. Sperber announced late Friday afternoon that the Avondale, Arizona track (in suburban Phoenix) will not host a Verizon IndyCar Series race in 2019.

Michael Knight of the Arizona Republic first reported the story, followed by an official statement from Sperber:

“We have enjoyed having INDYCAR at our venue for the full three years of our agreement. The series officials and teams have been tremendous partners.

“INDYCAR will not be on our schedule in 2019, we’re currently taking a pause to review schedule options for the future. INDYCAR is currently discussing with International Speedway Corporation (ISC) other potential venues and opportunities.

“We’d like INDYCAR to be on our calendar in the coming years, and we will work with INDYCAR to find a date that will help deliver a successful event.”

INDYCAR and previous open-wheel series have raced at the 1.022-mile short track since 1964:

* 1964-1978 as part of the AAA/USAC Champ Car Series

* 1979-1995 as part of the CART/Champ Car World Series

* 1996-2005 as part of the Verizon IndyCar Series

* 2016-2018 – The IndyCar series returned to ISM Raceway after a 10-year absence, However, poor attendance for each of the three years prompted both sides to not extend the three-year agreement that expired after this year’s April race.

Here’s the official INDYCAR statement:

“INDYCAR has enjoyed its time racing at ISM Raceway, but attendance in the past three years has been disappointing despite considerable investment from both sides.

“Track president Bryan Sperber and his team have been terrific partners and are developing a beautiful facility, and IndyCar will reconnect with them when conditions are right for both parties.

“Meanwhile, INDYCAR is moving forward with building a terrific schedule for the 2019 season.”

Because ISM Raceway is owned by International Speedway Corporation, speculation has already begun as to what other ISC tracks INDYCAR may seek to hold races at.

Among potential ISC properties that could host ISC events – and some already have in the past – include Chicagoland Speedway, Watkins Glen Intentional, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Kansas Speedway, Michigan International Speedway, Auto Club Speedway and Richmond Raceway.

Other ISC facilities include Daytona International Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway, Martinsville Speedway and Darlington Raceway.

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