Fernando Alonso crashes on second day of Indianapolis 500 practice

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A tough start to Fernando Alonso’s second attempt at the Indianapolis 500 took a turn for the worse early Wednesday afternoon.

The McLaren Racing driver hit the outside wall in Turn 3 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and then spun through the infield grass into a heavy rear-end impact with the inside wall. The No. 66 Dallara-Chevrolet slowly skidded back up the track and made light left-front contact with the SAFER barrier (video of the crash is available here or by watching above).

Alonso walked away from the crash and talked with Dillon Welch on the NBC Sports Gold broadcast after being treated and released from the track’s care center.

“Pure understeer on the car, I lifted the throttle, and it was not enough,” Alonso told Welch. “I lost it completely. The wall came too close and too quickly.

“Unfortunately, it happened today. We will lose a little bit of running time again. I’m sorry for the team, but we’ll learn and hopefully come back this time tomorrow.”

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Gil de Ferran, the sporting director for McLaren, told Welch in a separate interview that it was too early to decide whether the team would go to a backup car or fix its primary.

“We’ll just huddle around the car and assess the situation in the coming hours,” de Ferran said. “It looked like we’ve been suffering from understeer throughout the morning, and it understeered into the wall, and that was it.”

The two-time Formula One champion already had suffered through a difficult opening day Tuesday when his car was plagued by electrical problems and ranked 32nd on the speed chart.

Alonso told reporters that his car handled “much better” Wednesday before the crash.

“Definitely we were moving in the right direction,” he said. “Small steps that we learned today that hopefully we can bring for next time. … These things happen in motorsport. Better today than on (May 26 race day). Let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”

Alonso, who was part of the team that won the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona in January, finished 24th as a rookie in the 2017 Indy 500, leading 27 laps before suffering an engine failure.

Indy Lights: Kyle Kirkwood joins Andretti Autosport

Road to Indy
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One of the Road to Indy’s most talented young drivers will climb another step up the development system ladder this season.

Kyle Kirkwood, the 2019 Indy Pro 2000 champion, has signed a contract to race for Andretti Autosport in the 2020 Indy Lights season. Kirkwood will drive the No. 28 car for the reigning championship team.

A native of Jupiter, Florida, 21-year-old Kirkwood has been incredibly successful in junior formulas over the last few years. He won the F4 US Championship 2017 and won both the F3 Americas and USF2000 titles in 2018.

Driving for RP Motorsport Racing, Kirkwood won 9 of 16 races in his maiden Indy Pro 2000 season last year, allowing him to win his fourth championship in three years and earn the Road to Indy scholarship.

“We are very excited about the addition of Kyle to our Indy Lights program,” Andretti Autosport CEO and Chairman Michael Andretti said. “We’ve followed Kyle’s career from when he started in 2018 with the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship and have been impressed with his success in every race that led to his Indy Pro 2000 Championship last year. As a championship-caliber team, Kyle displays the desire and talent that we look for in our drivers and are excited to see him hit the track for the 2020 Indy Lights season.”

Kirkwood previously drove for Andretti in a two-day test session at Sebring International Raceway in December. He will make his official debut for the team in the season-opening doubleheader at St. Petersburg on March 14-15.

“I am ecstatic that I can now say I am competing in Indy Lights with Andretti Autosport this season,” Kirkwood said. “They have established a winning program in Indy Lights and we plan on carrying that reputation throughout 2020.

“We are a fantastic match for each other and our Sebring test in December proved that.”

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