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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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Report: Spencer Pigot out at Ed Carpenter Racing

Joe Skibinski / IndyCar
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Spencer Pigot will not return to Ed Carpenter Racing in 2020, according to a story Thursday by RACER.com.

The 26-year-old Floridian, who won the 2015 Indy Lights championship, is expected to be replaced in the No. 21 Chevrolet by 2019 Indy Lights runner-up Rinus VeeKay.

“I’m appreciative of the opportunity ECR gave me,” Pigot told RACER.com. “I understand the reasons they had to go in a different direction, and wish them all the best.”

In 56 NTT IndyCar Series starts, Pigot has 15 top 10 finishes, with a best finish of second at Iowa in 2018. He finished 14th in the 2019 point standings.

VeeKay, who tested in an Indy car twice for ECR in 2019, has six wins in 18 Indy Lights starts, including a weekend sweep of the final two rounds of the season at Laguna Seca in September.

A representative from ECR told NBC Sports Thursday that the team currently could not comment on any driver rumors as the team currently does not have any drivers under contract for the 2020 season, although it is presumed that owner/driver Carpenter will return to the No. 20 entry for the oval rounds.

NBC Sports will provide updates on the story once more information becomes available.