Fernando Alonso fails to secure Indianapolis 500 spot on first day

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INDIANAPOLIS — Fernando Alonso currently is outside the field for his second Indianapolis 500 after being bumped by J.R. Hildebrand during the final 10 minutes of Saturday’s qualifying session

The two-time Formula One champion posted an average of 227.224 mph on his fourth attempt, which had been good enough for 29th. But his lap slid out of the top 30 qualifying spots over the final 30 minutes.

“We didn’t have the speed, and I hope Sunday, we have another chance to be in the race,” Alonso told NBCSN’s Kelli Stavast after the qualifying session ended at 5:50 p.m. ET. “If we don’t get it, it’s because we don’t deserve it.”

Alonso’s car is among the six outside the top 30 that will battle it out Sunday for the final three spots in the 103rd running of the Indy 500.

THE 103RD INDIANAPOLIS 500: Click here for how to watch, full daily schedules

After a disastrously slow first attempt, Alonso went to 30th of 36 drivers attempting to make the 33-car field after his attempt at 4:15 p.m.

But 15 minutes later, Pato O’Ward bumped Alonso from the top 30. Alonso quickly made another attempt, but it wasn’t fast enough for the top 30.

The first round of qualifying ends at 5:50 p.m. ET, and the top 30 will be locked into the race.

Alonso’s No. 66 McLaren Racing Chevrolet went fastest on its third attempt after lagging on its first and waving off the second.

The Spaniard is in a backup car after crashing Wednesday in practice.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”