Fernando Alonso crashes late on the second day of Indy 500 practice

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INDIANAPOLIS — Fernando Alonso suffered a crash Thursday with just under an hour remaining during Indy 500 practice, bringing an abrupt halt to what had been an encouraging two days at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Alonso was exiting Turn 4 when he dipped his car low onto the concrete, causing him to wiggle up the track and hard into the outside wall. He slid through the entrance to pit lane without further contact (watch the video above).

The two-time Formula One champion sustained right-side damage to the wheels of his No. 66 Dallara-Chevrolet, which was ranked as the sixth fastest on the speed chart at the time of the crash.

“We just lost the grip of the car and at this place, the walls are very close,” Alonso told reporter Dillon Welch in an interview on NBC Sports Gold. “Just the way it is. Unfortunately it happened again today. Hopefully it just happens today and not on Sunday, Aug. 23.

“You learn every lap you do around this track, and we will learn from this one. Hopefully tomorrow we can start again. It has been going OK, more or less, so far this week, so hopefully we can keep it up the good work and have no more issues.”

Alonso, who crashed after making 126 laps, said he thought the car would be repairable. Friday is another practice before qualifying Saturday.

“I didn’t check, but it shouldn’t be too bad,” he said. “I will rely on the Arrow McLaren SP team, and we will be fine.It should be fine.”

Fernando Alonso’s damaged car is returned to the garage after a crash late in practice (Mykal McEldowney/IndyStar/USA TODAY Sports Images).

It’s the second consecutive year that Alonso crashed on the second day of Indy 500 practice.

He failed to qualify for the 2019 event but is guaranteed to be in this year’s 33-car field, which has no extra entries that could bump him.

Alonso, who confirmed Tuesday that he won’t race in the Indy 500 for at least the next two years because of his new F1 deal with Renault, was fifth fastest in the opening practice Wednesday and said his Arrow McLaren Racing SP team “was improving the car a little bit each time.”

As a 2017 rookie, Alonso led 27 laps and finished 24th because of an engine failure.

Craig Hampson, Alonso’s engineer for this year’s race, told Welch in an interview earlier Thursday that he believed the Spaniard could win the 104th Indianapolis 500 if given a strong car.

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
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ANAHEIM, California – Ken Roczen will make the move from HRC Honda to H.E.P. Motorsports with the Progressive Ecstar Suzuki team, ending a long and eventful offseason that saw his split from his longstanding team after he committed to running World Supercross (WSX).

“H.E.P. Motorsports is thrilled to announce that the team has signed Ken Roczen as its premier rider for the 2023 season,” the team announced on Instagram. “Former AMA Motocross champion Roczen will be aboard a Suzuki RM-Z450. Roczen, who won his most recent championship on a Suzuki, will be reunited with the brand and bring his exciting style, determination, and grit back to the RM Army.

“Ken Roczen will compete in the upcoming 2023 Supercross and Motocross Championship series which is set to start on January 7 at Anaheim Stadium in Southern California.”

For Roczen, it is a return to the bike of his youth and on which he had some of his greatest professional success.

“This thing has been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks in the making, but there was so much uncertainty,” Roczen told NBC Sports during Monster Energy Supercross Media Sessions. “It was a very unique situation. I just finally signed two nights ago, so it’s really only legit once the ink hits the paper. It’s been in the works for a long time, but there were just a lot of questions and a lot of input from a lot of other teams too.

“Good things take time, and I’m okay with that. I grew up riding Suzuki. Ot’s like a homecoming. It’s a special feeling”

Roczen won the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on a Suzuki before making the move to Honda. That year he won nine of 12 Nationals and finished no worse than second as he easily outpaced Eli Tomac by 86 points. He finished third in his next Pro Motocross outing in 2018 after sitting out the outdoor season in 2017.

“I am beyond excited to reconnect with Suzuki for the 3rd time in my career. We’ve had a lot of success in the past and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in our future.” Roczen said in the Instagram post.