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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Attention NASCAR teams: IMSA drivers available for Daytona!

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NASCAR will be making its debut on the Daytona International Speedway road course next month, and there’s a big fan who’d like to join the historic weekend.

This fan actually has impressive credentials, too — a few thousand laps around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile layout that annually plays host to the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

In 2014, the winning GTLM team in the sports car endurance classic included IMSA Porsche driver Nick Tandy, who rabidly has followed NASCAR for more than 30 years since growing up in England.

So why not try racing NASCAR? Especially because Tandy has the weekend of Aug. 14-16 free.

He’s not picky, either — offering up his services on Twitter (as well as those of Porsche teammate Earl Bamber) for an ARCA, Xfinity, trucks or Cup ride.

Tandy’s affinity for American stock-car racing runs deep.

His first trip to the World Center of Racing was as a fan attending the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, 2008. During Rolex testing in January, Tandy, 35, said he hadn’t missed a Cup race on TV in 15 years.

Among his favorite NASCAR drivers: the Earnhardts, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. When IMSA ran the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2014, Tandy stayed a few extra days at the Brickyard and bought Kyle Busch gear for himself and his children.

He briefly took the stage during a NASCAR weekend last October. After IMSA’s season finale at Road Atlanta, Tandy made a few demonstration laps and a burnout in his No. 911 Porsche before the Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway.

He also has some experience in stock cars, having raced Modified-type grass-roots series on England’s quarter-mile short tracks.

Couple that with a Daytona road course record that includes two consecutive podium class finishes (including last Saturday) and a sports car resume with 13 IMSA victories and an overall win in the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans … and maybe a NASCAR team should take a look.

And Tandy isn’t the only IMSA driver who likely would be available.

Corvette driver Jordan Taylor, who won the 2017 Rolex 24 overall title with Jeff Gordon as a teammate (and the inspiration for his Rodney Sandstrom persona), also tweeted his availability for the weekend on the high banks.

Sports car veteran Andy Lally, a GTD driver with multiple class wins in the Rolex 24 as well as 38 Cup starts (he was the 2011 rookie of the season in NASCAR’s premier series), also hung out his shingle.

There also is AIM Vasser Sullivan’s Jack Hawksworth (who just won at Daytona last Saturday), the Englishman who teamed with Kyle Busch at the Rolex 24 in January and made an Xfinity start at Mid-Ohio last year with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Many sports car drivers (such as Taylor) already live in Florida, and many are hunkering down in the Sunshine State with IMSA returning to action at Daytona last week and Sebring International Raceway next week. Because of COVID-19-related travel concerns and restrictions, several IMSA stars who live outside the country are riding out the pandemic within a few hours of Daytona with nothing to do.

Why not a weekend at the World Center of Racing?

Over the years, scads of “road-course ringers” (including some Formula One veterans) have tried their hands in stock cars at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International.

How about considering the many sports car drivers who already have reached victory lane at Daytona by making a few right-hand turns, too?