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Alonso stresses importance of Triple Crown bid in 2018 racing plans

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Fernando Alonso has stressed that his bid for the Triple Crown of Motorsport remains a priority as he forms his 2018 racing plans, adding fuel to the fire of a shot at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Alonso began his push to become just the second driver in history to win the Triple Crown by taking part in the Indianapolis 500 in May as part of a joint entry between McLaren, Honda and Andretti Autosport.

Alonso has completed one leg by winning the Monaco Grand Prix twice, and has long-stressed his desire to race at Le Mans, dropping heavy hints last month in a press conference that he could target an appearance at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Contract talks with McLaren are continuing, with Alonso aiming to have a decision made by the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas next weekend.

Speaking during a live Q&A on Instagram, Alonso said he was continuing to mull over racing plans for next year, but said his Triple Crown bid remained a priority.

“I’m still thinking, still deciding. I could have already made a decision, but there’s still some details we need to figure out,” Alonso said.

“As I’ve said many times, my aim is to be the best driver in the world, to be the most complete driver in the world. For that, you need to win in different series in different cars at different times.

“The Triple Crown is still a very big priority for me, so I’m working on that.”

Alonso has already ruled out racing in the Indy 500 next year due to the clash with the Monaco Grand Prix, leaving Le Mans as the only possible way to further his Triple Crown bid.

There are no clashes between F1 and Le Mans in 2018, with both the test day and the starting of the Le Mans race week avoiding grand prix weekends.

Alonso would also be able to make his FIA World Endurance Championship debut at the 6 Hours of Spa at the beginning of May as a pre-cursor to Le Mans, with the event falling between grands prix in Azerbaijan and Spain.

Toyota is set to be the sole manufacturer racing in the LMP1 class of the WEC next year after Porsche’s departure, making it the only location for Alonso to possible end up if he wants to challenge for overall victory.

While this may have been hard to make happen when McLaren was partnered with rival Japanese manufacturer Honda, the F1 team will link up with Renault from 2018, opening up the possibility.

WATCH LIVE: IndyCar practice and qualifying at Laguna Seca

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For the first time in 15 years, Indy cars will be racing at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, and the stakes have never been higher.

Tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Monterey is the final race of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season, and with four drivers mathematically eligible for the series championship, there will be plenty of story lines to follow.

Current series points leader Josef Newgarden enters this weekend with a 41-point lead over second-place Alexander Rossi.

A California native, Rossi attended his first IndyCar race with his father as child at Laguna Seca when he was three years old.

He now hopes to win his first IndyCar championship at the track where he fell in love with the sport, but after suffering a broken bolt in practice 1 yesterday, he will need to find speed in P3 and qualifying today in order to put himself in the best position to fight for the title.

Simon Pagenaud and Scott Dixon are also in contention to win the championship this weekend, and another title would only add to their already illustrious IndyCar careers.

Leigh Diffey, Paul Tracy and Townsend Bell will call today’s on-track action from the booth, while Marty Snider, Jon Beekhuis, Kevin Lee and Robin Miller will report from the pits.

Here is today’s schedule:

(All times are Eastern)

Saturday 9/21, 1 p.m. ET, IndyCar Practice 3, NBC Sports Gold 

Saturday 9/21, 4:30 p.m. ET, IndyCar Qualifying, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold

Saturday 9/21, 6 p.m. ET, Indy Lights Race 1, NBC Sports Gold 

 

For sessions on NBC Sports Gold, be sure to have your username and password handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.