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Reports: Honda nixes Fernando Alonso racing for Andretti at Indy 500

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If two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso makes a return to the Indianapolis 500 this May, he won’t be with Andretti Autosport, according to multiple reports.

RACER.com reported Sunday that Alonso and Andretti Autosport were nearing a deal to reunite at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but Honda put the brakes on the arrangement. RACER reported that the deal, which also would have included some road-course races, was blocked by Honda’s global headquarters in Japan after being sent for review by Honda Performance Development.

Citing an unnamed source, the Indianapolis Star confirmed the RACER report later Sunday.

The news comes after several years of hard feelings between Alonso and Honda. The engine manufacturer returned to Formula One in 2015 by forming a partnership with McLaren, whom Alonso was driving for at the time.

But the team experienced several poor results and engine performance issues, leading to a widely-publicized incident in which a frustrated Alonso referred to the Honda powerplant as a “GP2 engine” (a reference to F1’s feeder series) over his radio during the 2015 Japanese Grand Prix.

Alonso still made his Indianapolis 500 debut in 2017 in an Andretti Honda, leading 27 laps before finishing 24th because of an engine failure.

After retiring from F1 in 2018, Alonso returned to Indy with McLaren last year, but Honda reportedly blocked Alonso and McLaren from using one of its engines. Alonso failed to qualify in a Chevy for the 2019 Indy 500. He since has left McLaren after serving as a brand ambassador.

If he is limited to Chevrolet options again for the May 24 race at Indy, Alonso will face a challenge to find a high-profile seat. Team Penske (four cars) and Ed Carpenter Racing (three) likely are at their max entries for the 104th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

Arrow McLaren SP, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, DragonSpeed, Juncos Racing and A.J. Foyt Racing would seem the options for Alonso if he were to continue his pursuit of capturing the final leg of auto racing’s “Triple Crown” (having already won the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Monaco Grand Prix).

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Robert Wickens shares more positive strides toward recovery in new video

Joe Skibinski/IndyCar
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Robert Wickens has made massive steps since sustaining a spinal cord injury in an Aug. 19, 2018 crash at Pocono Raceway.

Since the accident, Wickens publicly has shared his recovery, often uploading videos of his physical rehabilitation on Twitter.

In his most recent update on Wednesday, Wickens shared a video of him walking on a treadmill. Fellow NTT IndyCar Series competitor Tony Kannan, who competes in triathlons during his spare time, also was visible running on the treadmill behind Wickens.

“When I am @TonyKannan [sic] age, I hope to run as fast as him…” Wickens tweeted. “Today was a good day!”

Wickens, who will turn 31 on March 13, first made his return to the IndyCar paddock in last year’s season opener in St. Petersburg. Since then, he’s made a return to the driver’s seat, piloting a specialized Acura NSX prior to the start of last year’s IndyCar race in his hometown of Toronto.

In September, Wickens fulfilled a vow to his wife Karli, by standing with her during their wedding. The new husband and wife also danced together during their reception.

Should Wickens fully recover to resume racing, Arrow McLaren SP co-owner Sam Schmidt has stated that the team’s No. 6 entry will be available for him to drive. Wickens continues to remain as a “driver coach and consultant” for the team.

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