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Fernando Alonso will enter 2019 Indy 500 with new McLaren Racing team

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Fernando Alonso will head to Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a fully-backed McLaren Racing entry, according to McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown.

When Alonso made his first start there in 2017, the entry was in collaboration with Andretti Autosport.

“We’ve always had a desire to go as McLaren Racing,” Brown said at SpeedCafe.com. “Last time we did it on such short notice I think it would have been impossible, it was six weeks between announcing and racing, and you can’t build up a race team that quickly.”

Saturday’s announcement that Alonso would enter the 2019 Indy 500 was done early enough to allow the team to put all the necessary pieces in place with existing partners and shareholders of McLaren Racing.

The team has a little more than six months – which is still a very short window for the creation of a new team. Brown expects economies-of-scale that will allow them to pull off this feat in the time allotted.

“It’s a whole separate racing team that will be created and we are a large racing team with a lot of resources and I am extremely confident, or we would not have entered, that we can give maximum effort in our F1 effort as well as Indy without one compromising the other,” Brown said.

“It is going to be people that are not currently on our Formula 1 team. It will be built up from relationships that we have. It’ll be a new McLaren entry.”

The reasoning behind creating a new team may well be strategic.

So that was one of things the shareholders and ourselves wanted to do, to go as McLaren Racing,” Brown said. “That is why we have made the announcement today to make time to bring those resources and the people in to have our own team.”

And while Brown would not reveal whether there is any credibility to rumors that the organization may go fulltime IndyCar racing either next year or in the future, putting the pieces in place to run a fully supported entry keeps that option alive.

Certainly we’ll be in a position where we are there with equipment, people and resources so it gives us a head start if ultimately we end up doing a fulltime entry,” Brown said.

Fueling speculation as to McLaren’s interest in running IndyCar long term was a statement by Tony Stewart last week that Brown was one of the principles he spoke with about a possible ride in the 2020 Indy 500.

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Michael Carter wins Mazda Road to 24 Shootout

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Michael Carter was selected as the winner of the 2018 Mazda Road to 24 Shootout.

Carter was one of four drivers who competed for the honor and a $100,000 scholarship that went along with it. Matthew Dirks, Hannah Grisham and Loni Unser also competed.

With the scholarship, Carter will compete in the 2019 Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup.

“What a journey this has been,” said Carter in a press release. “The reason I started racing a Mazda was because of the Mazda Road to 24 Shootout. It was our one single goal all along and to finally accomplish that is surreal. The process begins next week of getting ready for next season, for the series test at Barber, and to put together a good season in the Global MX-5 Cup.”

Carter was invited to the Shootout largely because of his 2018 performance in SCCA. He finished second in the SCCA Hoosier Super Tour Points Championship, won the Spec Miata Challenge and won in Spec Miata at the American Road Race of Champions.

The 18-year-old Carter had his eye on the Road to Mazda early.

“Each year, it is exciting to see the next batch of talent that is in the pipeline,” said John Doonan, Director, Mazda Motorsports. “I heard something from Michael and his father that really hit a chord with me which was that they built a Spec Miata with the sole purpose of going up the Mazda Road to 24 ladder.

That really speaks to the challenger spirit at Mazda, to why we have the Shootout, and to the family that we have at Mazda. Michael is the driver today who walks away with the scholarship, but we had four families come together here who have all gone racing together. For all of us at Mazda, it’s very rewarding to give these families a chance to go racing together. We look forward to watching Michael take the next step in his career in next season’s Global MX-5 Cup.”