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Alonso’s Rolex 24 debut confirmed with United Autosports

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Fernando Alonso’s sports car debut will come with United Autosports for the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, it was officially announced Thursday.

The two-time Formula 1 World Champion has spoken openly about his Triple Crown ambitions in the last year or so, with his 2017 Indianapolis 500 bow the first extra entry beyond his time in the Monaco Grand Prix, and his potential debut in the 24 Hours of Le Mans yet to come.

While the United rumor has developed in the last couple weeks, no confirmation could come until Alonso’s own Formula 1 contract got sorted with McLaren, and that got announced last week prior to the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas. This one now gets announced in advance of the Mexican Grand Prix at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

“What an exciting and interesting project. Learning about a completely new racing category, adapting to a different car and to another style of driving and everything that goes with it, is a new challenge for me and I can’t wait to test myself again as a driver,” Alonso said.

“The Daytona 24 Hours is the most iconic US endurance race and one of the world’s great races. Everyone knows it. It’s not part of the Triple Crown but, as I have always said, my aim is to be a complete driver and this experience will help me in the preparation for any other endurance race I might take part in.

“Before I went to Indy, I had never driven on an oval, now I know what an oval is and how to deal with it. I am excited to go back and race in America. After the great time I had during the month of May for the Indy 500, I am looking forward to taking part in another legendary race that will bring back all those amazing sensations that US fans gave me.

“Also, this race happens at a convenient time, in January, when our F1 season is off and we are mainly working on our physical preparation. It will be good to get behind a wheel again!

“Thanks to United Autosports for having offered me this opportunity and thanks to McLaren for supporting me in this new exciting adventure.”

Photo: United Autosports

Racing at the Rolex 24 will serve as preparation for Alonso in a similar race and with the Ligier JS P217 chassis.

United Autosports has also announced Paul di Resta, Will Owen, Lando Norris and Phil Hanson among its drivers in the pair of Gibson-powered chassis thus far.

United, the team co-owned by Zak Brown and Richard Dean, is fresh off winning the LMP3 championship in European Le Mans Series competition with Sean Rayhall and John Falb, and also came second in LMP2 with Owen, Filipe Albuquerque and Hugo de Sadeleer. The LMP3 class title is the team’s second consecutive.

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.