Fernando Alonso fails to qualify for Indy 500 as Kaiser takes last spot

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The final row of the Indianapolis 500 starting grid has been set and will consist of Sage Karam, James Hinchcliffe, and Kyle Kaiser. They will start next Sunday’s race in 31st, 32nd and 33rd starting positions, respectively.

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

The three drivers posted the fastest four-lap average speeds of the six drivers who made their final attempt to qualify for the 103rd running of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Patricio O’Ward, Max Chilton, and two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso will have to watch the race from the other side of the catchfence.

Alonso, who had been slow all week, looked to be locked into the 33rd and final starting position after Chilton and O’Ward were not fast enough to make the field. But Kaiser, the final driver to make a qualifying attempt in the Last Row Shootout, set a four-lap average speed of 227.372 mph – just enough to take the final starting position away from Alonso and McLaren.

The motorsports world was left in utter shock. Juncos Racing, a small, part-time entry from Speedway Indiana that lost their sponsor and suffered a practice crash during the week, took down McLaren Racing, a team that has won eight Formula One Constructors’s Championships and 12 Driver’s Championships.

“I don’t think I can wrap my mind around what we just did,” Kaiser told NBC Sports after bumping Alonso from the field. “This all the credit to the team. They’ve been working non-stop trying to get this car ready for us and they did everything we that we needed to get into this field.”

Coverage of the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 begins next Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. ET on NBCSN, then moves over to NBC at 11:00 a.m. ET.

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Eli Tomac’s near-perfect season ended perfectly

ProMotocross.com
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From the start, Eli Tomac wanted to go into the season-ending race at Ironman Raceway with the 2020 red plate already in his possession. That final race has been know to devolve into muddy conditions and it is best not to leave things to chance.

For a rider with an almost perfect record of overall podium finishes, one would not have thought there would be much drama at the end of Round 11 at Budds Creek, but it took until the last lap of the final moto for Tomac to achieve his goal.

One reason was that Tomac’s near-perfect season was not so perfect. From the very beginning at Hangtown, Tomac struggled with poor starts to his events. Getting a bad jump out of the gate and finishing fourth in Moto 1 that weekend was not the auspicious beginning he wanted in search of his third consecutive 450 outdoor championship.

The hallmark of Tomac’s season has been overcoming bad starts. He rode through the field at Hangtown and nearly stood on the podium. Then he won Moto 2 and finished second overall. It was his first of nine consecutive overall podiums. Tomac came back the following week for a perfect sweep at Pala.

In Round 3, Tomac once again got off to a bad start. He finished fifth in Moto 1 at Thunder Valley – and then won Moto 2 in a duplication of his opening round.

In Round 5, Tomac had his worst performance until that time. He finished seventh in Moto 1. Nearly halfway through the season, a pattern was firmly established with his Moto 2 win.

Vanessa O’Brien, Kawasaki USA

One should recall that the hallmark of Tomac’s season was strong finishes. Four the next four weeks Tomac failed to podium only one time in a moto. On that occasion, he would stumble in Moto 2 at Spring Creek in Round 8 before scoring his second perfect race at Washougal.

And that is where it got interesting. Tomac left Washougal with a 50-point advantage over Marvin Musquin. It was just the scenario Tomac had seesawed his way through the season to achieve. But it was too good to be true.

In most of his previous bad performances, there was an extenuating circumstance for Tomac’s bad start: a fall or an off course excursion. This time, he simply rode an uninspired race and finished seventh again to match his worst single moto performance. He could not fully rebound in Moto 2 and finished third.

For the first time in 2019, Tomac failed to stand on the overall podium in fourth. Worse still, he lost 10 points to Musquin and no longer had his one-race cushion.

But this is a season of recovery for Tomac. At Budds Creek last week it was reported that Tomac’s lackluster performance in Washington was due to his overdoing his chores on his Colorado ranch. Rested and restored, Tomac scored his third perfect race with Moto 1 & 2 wins. And this time, he looked sharper than he had in any previous race.

Tomac did all the could do by winning both motos, but in the closing laps at Budds Creek he needed a little help to clinch the title. As it turned out, Tomac needed the perfect performance to clinch his third consecutive championship.

In Moto 1, he narrowly edged Ken Roczen and Musquin, to give the three championship contenders a sweep of the top three spots; that was not enough to regain his cushion.

Roczen was close enough to force Tomac into The Ironman needing to score points to permanently affix the red plate on his Kawasaki in 2020, but just as Tomac’s season has been marked by second half improvements, Roczen’s has been marred by a lack of performance in the second motos.

Musquin passed Roczen late in Moto 2 last week and could have extended the drama one more week if he could have caught second-place Jason Anderson. Musquin could not erase an 11-second deficit to the runner-up and now Tomac’s almost perfect season has a distinctly perfect feel to it.

Vanessa O’Brien, Kawasaki USA

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