Alonso buoyed by run to P8 in Brazil, first back-to-back points in ’17

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Fernando Alonso was pleased with his run to eighth place in Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix as he recorded a top-10 finish in consecutive Formula 1 races for the first time this season.

Alonso started sixth at Interlagos after an impressive showing in qualifying, and made a good start to run fifth behind the safety car early on.

The McLaren driver was powerless to stop Felipe Massa fleeting past on the restart, and also dropped behind Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo as they recovered after starting down the field.

Alonso found himself in a last-lap scrap for P7 with Massa and Sergio Perez behind, but held position to take the checkered flag in P8.

“Overall, it’s been a happy Brazilian GP for us. We started sixth, at the first corner we were up to fifth, and then we finished in the points – one of our best weekends,” Alonso said.

“I had a fantastic car throughout the whole race, but, ultimately, I just could not overtake. We didn’t have enough speed on the straights.

“I was very, very close to Felipe a couple of times at the exit of the corners, and I thought ‘now is the time I can pass him,’ but even though I was using the DRS, he was pulling away. He was very consistent and made zero mistakes.

“Also, being the last lap of Felipe’s last-ever F1 race in Brazil, I wasn’t sure how hard he would defend! I didn’t have a chance to overtake him, anyway. And I had to defend from Perez behind, so I was happy when I saw the checkered flag.”

After finishing 10th last time out in Mexico, the result marked the first time Alonso had scored points in consecutive races this season after continued struggles with McLaren-Honda.

It was also just the fourth time Alonso has scored points in back-to-back races since the start of the McLaren-Honda partnership in 2015, with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in two weeks’ time marking the end of the relationship.

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.