Alonso inadvertently creates IndyCar’s next ‘double birds’ moment (VIDEO)

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While undergoing his first test for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, Fernando Alonso experienced a lot – understanding the downforce, power, engine maps and pit stop in/out procedures.

And that was before he hit two birds, in an inadvertent and unintentional homage to one of the Verizon IndyCar Series’ most recent viral moments, when Will Power flipped the “double birds” – two middle fingers – to INDYCAR Race Director Brian Barnhart at a race in Loudon, 2011.

Power’s impetus came when that race on the 1-mile oval was restarted under rainy conditions. Oval races cannot be run in the rain as wet weather tires are not utilized on those circuits. With Power and others taken out as a result of a mistake from Race Control, Power released the middle fingers and earned a fine.

Alonso, the two-time Formula 1 World Champion, had otherwise had a smooth day, with his only major moment slight moisture interrupting one of his runs this afternoon.

But in his last major run of the day, Alonso’s No. 29 McLaren Honda Andretti entry hit two birds with both his left and right front tires at exactly the same moment.

“I didn’t see that one coming. I saw one bird approaching Turn 3 in the penultimate run. I just lifted and avoided the bird,” Alonso said in the post-practice press conference. “Hopefully I avoid that on the race day. I saved one but not the other two. Those two, I didn’t notice. 

“It’s a double bird kill,” added Barnhart, ironically, during the IMS and NBCSN live web stream, as he was in the booth today with NBCSN’s Kevin Lee and Robin Miller.

The moment of impact was captured on video (linked above) and fortunately for Alonso, he was able to escape from the contact unscathed at more than 200 mph.

The same fate could not, however, have been said for the birds. It was racing’s equivalent of when Randy Johnson’s fastball stuck a dove during a 2001 Spring Training game.

The Arizona Diamondbacks, Johnson’s team, went on to win that year’s World Series. Could Alonso’s team, Andretti Autosport, pull off the racing equivalent results-wise too, in winning the Indianapolis 500? It remains to be seen.

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.