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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IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.